Today’s story wraps three pieces few would find wrapped together. The three pieces seem to beg each bear witness to the other… while asking you bear witness to the them. Yesterday a co-worker of mine sent me a message about another unknown colleague who was a central player in a critical incident at a police service in a neighbouring city. I do not know the details of that scenario, other than a headline stating “Distraught Officer Forces Evacuation…. It appears evident this involved a police officer and I presume the incident involved a sidearm and a deep internal struggle to choose between pulling the trigger or setting the gun down prior to being escorted for immediate psychiatric assessment.

The second story involves a mother, a child, and a police officer. Two of them were the same person while the child seemed to be two children, represented by one. The representing child was on a gurney in a hospital waiting for the coroner to assess their cause of death while the other infant was home waiting for the return of their newly minted mother because she had to leave and go to work, donning a blue uniform, a cap, and a sidearm. Both the one on the gurney and the one at home appeared, to the mother, to look the same … meaning what was seen through the shared eyes of mother and police officer caused devastation to take place inside while on the outside the job ruled. Appearances can be deceiving but know they are also akin to a blanket of snow dusting what we think is real.

The third story involves myself asking for more guidance in finding stepping stones to living a life that is defined as thriving as opposed to surviving. Only yesterday that was a daunting task yet this morning I found words I chose to articulate as if I believed them! I practiced saying and maybe believing “The next half of my life is to be fostered in joy”!  Now as the day unfolds the story gets interesting only to wrap up neatly while reading by an evening fire.

My day was spent doing things, working on things, being productive, and reminding my Service Dog that her canine culinary skills did not match her canine palette as I cooked up deeply discounted chicken livers found at the local grocery store.

The day had humour and old fashioned hard work visually punctuated with determined snow falling in a premeditated plan to cover all I could see. Once all was covered what I saw was peacefully, and persistently, draped with thick warm snow. This draping allowed a visual quiet whereby I could finish the day sitting by the fire, wrapped in a blanket, dog at my feet.

That warm hearth and quiet end concluded with me reading one of my regular leisure reads …. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s densely written The Body Keeps The Score. It is what anyone would consider light reading on PTSD because it is merely 445 pages of text requiring reading glasses due to font size, not aging eyes.

So how do the three stories wrap together and somehow request you bear witness? Well story number one is of an unknown person with unknown circumstances that speak of an experience in the mind reasonably defined as a critical incident. It speaks of an incident requiring 911 services, and a targeted tactical approach. It speaks of a mind that is living a story which understands there is profound injury but does not know this is a normal reaction to what we can only hope is considered an abnormal situation. 

The second story speaks of two parts to two different people creating, in effect, four people. As they are created they split and dissect one from the other in order for pain to exist privately, without spectators.  It speaks of pain that will exist forever if they don’t find common ground where each created memory, or person, can live. These created memories include the roles of Mother, Police Officer, Living Son, and Deceased Child.

The last one is a story of someone determined to conjure acceptance and honour all the different ways of experiencing life, post the four letter diagnosis called … whatever you may call it but … often titled PTSD.

The end of a day finds conclusion fostered in physical rest after ceaseless movement of the body and mind full of non-sequiturs. That day’s end finds an unexpected quote from a favourite author… Rumi. The quote was found referenced at the beginning of Chapter 17 of The Body Keeps The Score (pg. 279).

This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…. Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honourably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

I say the day we meet those guests with honour and respect is the day they know their gift has been received. They know their job is done and order is found within the everlasting chaos called life. That order is simply because we now accept chaos as the norm and order as the illusion. Interesting what happens when the snow dusts what we think is it not?

To that colleague who went to work, your child was home safe while you stood by one that was no longer able to be safe. The gift was the ability to hold your son tight, knowing you love him, knowing you value him. To the parent that lost their son that night your salve is the pain that will never go away … while finding refuge knowing other parents value what they have. You both may have split off to hide your pain but you may not know one child gave another child their mother back.

To the unknown person at the nearby police service, you have a big gift to unwrap. Know you are capable and know that as you unwrap the pieces within that gift you can treat them with honour and you will laugh again. You will laugh differently and that laughter will house compassion for all humans, now that you have had this experience. Know you will never wish this experience on another human soul and you will persevere. You persevered that night at work….otherwise the headline would have read differently. 

To myself, well…. I attend the gym of mental gymnastics and find ways to re-interpret what I perceive. I know the snow has covered all my preconceived notions, and I know I will both observe and welcome my Evacuated Guests. As I do this I feel myself fanning coals that might ignite into joy.

JT Murphy signing off for shift … someone wants to play.

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