I got a text message the other day that made my heart stop. It was about someone I care so deeply for, who’s in a really bad place right now.
It was bad news.
I stared at the screen, the bright white making my eyes blink in the late afternoon sun. I didn’t know what to make of it, didn’t know what to say. There were a thousand responses spinning around in my brain, making me absolutely dizzy. But none I could verbalize. Why. How. What do I do. How did this happen. Oh my god.
I was hit by the sudden, painful realization that there was absolutely nothing I could do. That this was a battle I couldn’t conquer. That this wasn’t even my battle to face in the first place.
I had just finished a run and my face was covered in sweat, beads dripping from my forehead and chin to the screen of my phone as I walked. I had just regained my normal breath, but it seemed to be caught in my throat again, like a cry waiting to be let out, choked back and rumbling against your ribcage.
I was struck by an overwhelming need to throw up.
I couldn’t handle the thought of other people, of the lives I couldn’t save.
See, that’s what I’ve always tried to be. A savior. Someone who takes what’s broken and somehow tries to mend it back together, to fix cracks and faults and flaws as if somehow I could possibly make things right again. But I can’t.
I kept walking. Kept holding my phone as it grew hot and heavy in my palms. The world started to spin, like the moments before you pass out when the skyline blurs together and everything gets hazy all at once. I bent over and heaved, feeling a wave of sadness creep up my entire body.
And I stood there in the middle of John K. Hanson Drive, bent over and silently heaving, tears pouring down my face, trying to make sense of what I couldn’t. Trying to make sense of why things happen to the ones we love. And why we’re powerless to change them.