My most profound experience of spiraling downward happened this year, er, last year. Dec. 14th or so. We (the choir) were practicing for Christmas and there was one song that was difficult to learn because of its tempo and the wording.
I had already been having a very difficult week in that stress was taking its toll on me. I am not used to being out every single day of the week and I was in my second week. I get cranky when I don’t have enough home time.
Then on that evil day when 26 people were slaughtered including 20 little kids at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut I felt that someone had stolen my insides and replaced them with the deepest sadness and I just couldn’t stop thinking about those poor children, the staff and the parents and siblings of those killed. It was just the thing to throw me emotionally over the cliff.
By the time I got to choir practice on Saturday morning I was on edge. Therefore I was not in the best of “moods”. When we started practicing that song, “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” I went ballistic. I gave my choir director a hard time and our cantor John. Of course the whole choir was there to experience my “tirade”
Then later that night I went off on my husband.
I realized after some thought that what really put me over the edge was the pain I felt from the Sandy Hook Massacre sent me back to the pain I felt over the death of my brother Tommy at the age of 14.
My brother Tommy died 40 years ago January 28th. Just a few weeks after Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirate player, died in a plane crash doing humanitarian work for Nicaragua. Anyway, my brother at the time was very much a fan of the rock star Alice Cooper. I never was a big fan, in fact he scared me. But, Tommy was fascinated by the fact that Alice Cooper could hang himself on stage and not get hurt. I guess Tommy tried it out that night. It didn’t work. My mother found him late that night after coming home from a 24hr grocery to make cheeseburgers that Tommy had asked for earlier in the evening.
You see one of the things that happens when someone dies this way is to ask what did I do or not do to see this coming? Was it an accident or on purpose? We all carried our guilt around like a weight around our necks, each in our own way.
That night, Tommy had called me to ask if I would like to come out and play cards with him or just spend some time. He was bored. I was tired and I had to go to work the next morning so I begged off telling him that I would see him tomorrow. . .tomorrow never came.
I don’t need to tell you what that did to our family. . .distraught is a kind word for what my family went through with this. . .I believe this is why the Sandy Hook Massacre hit me so hard. Young children dying needlessly. Even though my brother died 40 years ago, it never goes away. It just lessens in pain, the pain never truly goes away.
Since then I have talked with my friend, a priest whom I have known for about 30 years and good, close friends. It was a healing moment talking with Fr. Don and my best friends about this time I was going through. There is a song that Bette Midler and others have sung called “You got to have friends”. That is just what I needed and got, pure love and friendship.
Mood can and does make a person behave in certain ways. I am striving to move into much better moods, but to know how to deal with bad and sad moods when they happen.
I know that I must be walking much more closely with God, to rely on Him when I can no longer rely on myself, which is all the time. I must make prayer a deeper part of my life. I know that God has been so very good to me over these many years of goodness, trial, trauma and joy. Sometimes I forget just how very loved I am by a God who has known me since I was “knit together in my mother’s womb”. . .
Lord, never let me waver in my love and gratitude for You.
Sandy Ozanich © January 3, 2013