Imagine this for a second. You are swimming and someone just pushes your head underwater. Gurgles, water up your nose, that terrible pinch in your sinuses and when the bad feeling is gone you try to swim again. And after a while it happens again. Then again. Then you start being afraid. What if it keeps happening. The connection is real, you’re not just imagining.
Two weeks ago our house was broken into while we were camping at a lake . Four laptops were stolen and with them memories, unbacked work – my fault, I know – and the feeling of safety in our own home. Warmth; gone.
We fought hard to look beyond it, to move past. We did. The invaded rooms have been since cleaned up and rearranged. I wrote about the weekend we spent camping at Adams Lake and tried not to focus on the burglary. Unbeknownst to me the boys did the same at school, their teachers told me later. They talked about the magic weekend when they played with a baby snake and paddled to mysterious islands and then they mentioned that our house got broken into, casually so as if not to give the perpetrators too much power over us.
But the truth is, there is a feeling of fear and uncertainty circling overhead like an ugly bird, flapping its creepy wings over us every time we leave the house unattended. We try to think positive and say the feeling is not there; for the boys’ sake and for all of us.
For a few days I really thought I had it. Then Tony’s watch broke and I offered him mine until we could fix his. I could use my other watch I figured. Except that it was gone. Stolen when the laptops were stolen, I just realized. Bummer. The ugly bird flies low and cackles. Go away we say, again. And it does.
You swim, again, but someone pushes your head underwater… you struggle for breath, up again. Breathe…
I came to terms with the watch missing because what else can you do. I don’t believe in pricey possessions and the things that I have are mostly utilitarian, which is why I really miss them. What’s truly of value stays with us at all times, I tell the boys.
Then today’s afternoon rolled in sunny and plump and then an unwanted chill squirted down my spine, drowning joy and pushing me back into that cold evening… We realized one of our bikes was gone. The recently fixed mountain bike. Stolen.
We have been trying hard to get away from the memory of that evening. We set at building memories just like we have until now, the boys grin towards the camera and embrace my heart through the lens just like they’ve always done, and writing happens too, hiccups and all but that’s what writing is like sometimes. But it is unfair to hear the ugly bird cackling over our heads again. If we let it that is. Which we decided not to. Not anymore.
So we will keep swimming. And it will be a good one.
Lessons? A few.
Lesson 1. Attach yourself to what matters and if something matters a lot then make sure it’s safe wherever it is.
Lesson 2. The things that go missing are most likely gone forever and there’s little value in crying over spilled milk (by others, but spilled nonetheless)
Lesson 3. We have what we need to move on (in our case some leftover wheels, grouped in fours and twos, they serve the purpose)
Lesson 4. The ugly bird has to leave at some point. Or fall from the sky. Either way, it feeds on attention, so getting none means the end of it.
Lesson 5. The feeling of violation is real. Cry, kick, scream if you have to but don’t dwell on it for too long (note: easier said than done!) The feeling itself is a parasitic species you don’t want in your garden.
Lesson 6. (and pushing hard for a happy ending) My belief: There are plenty of good, kind people to make up for the ones with lost souls (temporarily or otherwise) who breed ugly birds and release them into other people’s worlds…