(we were never tragedies)


I’m at lunch with a boy. We’re both a tiny bit dressed up, and there’s a lemon in my water glass. It has occurred to me, and will occur to me again, that this is not the place I probably ought to be. He runs a hand through his hair. I chew my sandwich. My phone buzzes in my pocket, but I don’t check it. I’m weird about my phone, and I swear it gets hot in my pocket. Maybe because I’m worrying about someone right this second and…I cannot even…I get up, go into the bathroom, and stand with my shoulder blades against the door and check. Nothing catastrophic (of course). But there in my recent messages I see this quote. I came across it somewhere and thought she needed to see it “…But hearts don’t break, y’all. They bruise and get better. We were never tragedies. We were emergencies.”

There’s a differences between a break and a bruise (“and I’ve been crying over a bruise. I just need to suck it up.” And my best friend is wise in ways I can’t be). Between a tragedy and and emergency.

If we were never Hamlet. What if we were Horatio instead? The ones who heal. Not the ones who shrink back and are destroyed but the ones who believe and are saved (Hebrews y’all) (but Lord, again with the unbelief). It changes the nature of the conversation if we’re just in the middle of this emergency (you’re not hemorrhaging, Jennifer. This isn’t like that. you’re bleeding because there’s a hole. Holes heal)

Tragic heroes are doomed because they have this fatal flaw. Forever. And we’re flawed, fatally. But for *now*. Not for *ever*.  It changes everything. If the hole could heal, if we could be whole, then we hit the speed dial with hope (with urgency which falls like hope) because they rarely send hospice patients to the hospital. Nope. We’re huddled in the hospital hoping someone hears us. Hoping that when we leave the frantic voicemail or what have you, we get some sound back that isn’t an echo.

Listen guys, it doesn’t mean we’re broken. If it we didn’t have it in us to be better, we wouldn’t be so desperate. I think we’d let it sit inside of us, start to realize. I don’t think we’d lay it on each other. I don’t think we’d fight so hard to fix it. We were never tragedies. Or, to be more accurate, we were. Sure. We were tragically proud (they call it hubris) and self-centered and doomed to fail. To bring the destruction on us ourselves. To be the root of our own evil. But all that is past tense and paid for. We were tragedies but we are not tragedies. We are emergencies. We are the stark contrast between the way things *are* and the way they *should be* (oh honey. The way they will be again. Spring always comes again). We are a throbbing, aching, bleeding heart. (dead men do not bleed). We are an emergency, because we are not broken forever. We are broken for now, but not forever. So if you come, come to help, not to grieve (which is perhaps where Job’s friends went so wrong).

We need each other *now*. We need to be the hands that heal, and we need to *hurry* before we start to lose hope. We need your voice in our ears. We need you to keep fighting lest we begin to believe that we are tragic. We are not. The final act is not a battle or a funeral…it’s redemption. It’s a homecoming. It’s a wedding.

Your heart isn’t broken. It’s still beating (I know because you’re still bleeding). It’s still pounding in your chest. It’s bruised and battered, sure. It isn’t broken. It will love again, ache again, fight again, fail again…

I walk out of the bathroom looking at this boy who thinks I’m a tragedy (or possibly that he is. Maybe it’s both of us. I don’t know). And I fish some money out of my purse and press it there on the table. “Sorry. There’s been an emergency.”

Pick up my phone. Type a text. “We haven’t talked in forever. I miss you. How’s your life?” (is this all we need to keep our heads above the water? Sometimes it seems like it. But it’s an emergency, sometimes. And the last thing I need is for you to be concerned now. I am not a tragedy. Right this second, I am not an emergency. Can we just be friends?)

(sidenote. I have since googled the source of this quote that I love. It’s from a poem called “we were emergencies” by a guy named Buddy Wakefield. And I like the poem, but in the interest of full disclosure it drops an f bomb so…proceed with caution if that concerns you)

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