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Stop Making Sense

(Originally posted on Kukla’s Korner)

“I can’t make sense of it.”  That’s a recurring theme this summer.  You can make sense of suicide and death and plane crashes. You can analyze data, do toxicology tests, determine the chances of someone being susceptible to influences that push them to destroy themselves. You can analyze wreckage and figure out why the plane fell out of the sky.

@TeamNiemiClowe, Verified Shark Nut:  “Someone at work asked why I am so upset about the #KHL Plane Crash. I told them that if I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand!”

@dchesnokov: “I am sorry that I can’t reply to you, guys. I am just in shock still.”

I’ve been trying to avoid writing about death.  I’ve had too much opportunity to avoid it this summer.  Making sense doesn’t make you feel better.  Maybe the sense you make can contribute to future preventative measures and that is better than simple loss.  But I’m not going to make sense of it, all I can do is ride this wave of sorrow with a box of kleenex on hand.

@ryaneclowe29: “Hearing the tragic news about the Russian plane crash almost brought me to my knees.. So so sad and unfair. Prayers go out to all the families.”

When I first heard about the KHL crash, my first thought was “what team?”  What does THAT matter?  I don’t have family or friend or even acquaintance in the KHL. How does that makes sense?

It doesn’t.  It’s like crying: people don’t like seeing tears, you might even say they are afraid of them. Tears make others uncomfortable like a shriek or a scream. Contrary to some opinion, tears will not burn the souls of the departed.  They just wash away the sorrow of the living.

I don’t cry in front of people, except my veterinarians.  The vets are used to it now, they don’t try to reassure me I’m making the right decision or anything like that.  Maybe a bug or a squeeze of the arm, but they don’t offer platitudes.  I have mastered the crying over dying pets thing, my voice doesn’t even crack anymore while I discuss the particulars. But it is different with people, around people who are also likely to feel the pain.  You don’t want to be the one to set everyone off, to bring the show to a grinding weeping halt.

The KHL crash didn’t make me cry until I discovered that someone I was watching skate this summer was on that plane.  I didn’t know him, never met him.  He was just a familiar face in a place I like to go.  So why cry for him?

How could a fatal plane crash not be upsetting?  How can the deaths of so many young people with hopes, dreams, families not make you want to cry?  Who could have been on that plane that everyone wouldn’t feel a little sick and deep down sad to hear they had all died?  Maybe a plane full of terminal patients on life support?  No, there isn’t a way to imagine this not being a tragedy.

dandasilva23:  “Awful news about the plane crash over here. I can’t believe it. Life is short make sure you tell your families how much you love them.”

So why does it matter if I was vaguely familiar with one person and a lot of names?  Was it just timing?  Did the whole calamity sink in just at that moment?  Maybe. Or maybe knowing that someone in your village of faces is gone acts as a reminder, one that will come back again, bringing this heavy bad feeling with it.

Maybe it’s just a way of justifying tears, reaching for an excuse to feel something strong for people you don’t know. We want to do that, we want to be part of the bigger humanity even if we can’t wrap our brains around the whole.  Sometimes we call it a disorder, to over-identify with people we have not met.  I don’t see how it’s a disorder if so many people do it.  Sounds like a kind of empathy we don’t understand, not something wrong.

I’m sure lots of people will try to make sense of all the sadness we learned about this summer.  You can figure out what kind of plane it was and avoid those in the future.  You can imagine that if you avoid that plane or don’t fly in that place, it won’t happen to you.

Dmitry Chesnokov: “The type of a plane (Yak-42) only had 8 crashes in its history, only 1 of which was attributed to technical malfunctions.”

Do whatever makes you feel better, but try to remember life is half science, half superstition, all wrapped up in faith. Hang in there.

Burnzie88: “Still hoping to hear he wasn’t there, haven’t heard yet…Just a crazy crazy summer, def makes you chase kids down for a kiss after that.”

Apologies for getting tears all over my blog.

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