Are you sitting down?



 #Tryharder to understand that you are allowed to occasionally crack. You don’t have to always carry the weight for the rest of us and that thickening of our skin puts us less in touch with much of humanity. I’m not saying that we ne...

I started this blog 8 months ago and then put it down and moved on to other blog topics. It’s been in the back of my brain for a while now and I just couldn’t seem to cobble the words together to make my point. This offering has a lot of pain attached to it and perhaps I just wasn’t in the proper mindset at the time to do it justice or had the right emotions in the tank to get all the words and feelings out all in one sitting.

I don’t usually start and stop a chapter, as most of my stuff is “stream of consciousness” style and I start and finish a topic all within a 24 hour period and most of the words are typed on my iPhone as my daughter swims for an hour in the morning on Saturdays.

So today, after changing the name of the chapter, I will give it another go.

We often recall where we were when something amazing or traumatic occurred in our lives. People often ask each other “do you remember where you were when…”

A few things off the top of my head would be:

Challenger exploding-I was standing in a single file line waiting to go back into class when I heard one teacher whisper to another that the Challenger shuttle had exploded. I’m pretty sure I was the only kid that heard the whisper exchange and I rushed home after school to turn on the television to watch the news. At that age, it was probably one of the few times, if not the only time, I rushed home to actually watch the news. I didn’t know how big of a deal it was at the time, but I knew it was something that everyone seemed to care about, so I paid attention.

When 911 happened I was working in Worcester, Massachusetts. I remember walking into the radio station studio and telling the morning show what I had just heard and asked them to stay on the air till further notice. I remember walking across the street to the radio shack to buy a TV for the studio so we could see what was happening. I stood there in that Radio Shack for probably 20 minutes, with a bunch of strangers, just watching the video coverage over and over again. Numb. So very numb at that moment and not knowing what the hell any of it meant. Just a room full of strangers, staring at the TVs on the wall with eyes and mouths wide open. That’s the only way I can explain it.

When Barry Bonds hit #700, I was drinking in the ESPN zone at Disneyland with my best friend. Neither one of us really liked Bonds, but we both appreciated the moment as we drank. I also had onion rings.

And now to the events that really changed my life…

My brother Michael and I were sitting along the side of the street after football practice, waiting for my sister and younger brother to come get us. We waited and waited and as it got darker, we started to think our sister had forgotten to come and get us. I assure you, it was within the realm of possibilities as she is quite capable of forgetting such an important task and not above leaving us to sit as payback for some terrible thing we did to her. After a few hours, and after every other kid was picked up, a police car drove up and asked if we were the “Murphy boys”. The officer asked us to get in the car and he took us back to the police station. We had no idea why we were there, but we sat patiently and waited. I’m not gonna lie, I started to think about all the things that teachers told me would be on my “permanent record” and imagined that all that stuff finally caught up with me.

The officer then explained that there was a car accident and that my sister Kim had to be taken to the hospital because she was in bad shape and that my little brother Jimmy had died. The officer wasn’t supposed to tell us the news. He was actually supposed to wait for another person to arrive, as it was her job to convey this message, but I guess he couldn’t wait and his bedside manner was terrible. He told us like a career cop who had been rid of all tact and sensitivity that comes with doing a tough job like this for 30+ years. Didn’t matter that we were 11 and 13 years of age, he dropped the news on us and expected us to take it like men. Michael took it like a man. Didn’t cry. Didn’t flinch. Just took it. Me on the other hand, I cried harder than I had ever cried before and I didn’t stop for days. I was sitting down at the time and later I was sitting in the lap crying in the arms of a complete stranger. It was the woman that was supposed to deliver the message.

A few years ago, our house phone rang while we were eating dinner. We don’t answer the home phone because it’s always a bunch of telemarketers, but we especially don’t answer it during dinner. It was my dad. He left in the voicemail. “Hey it’s Jim, call me back”. And then hung up. My parents never call the house phone. My dad never says he’s Jim, as I know him as “dad”. I called back and he said “Mike died. He’s dead”. The first words out of my mouth were “What? Is mom ok?” That was the day I lost my 2nd brother and the day I started really writing and sharing my story to the world. The day I became more sensitive to things around me. I was sitting down.

We are not defined by the events in our lives, but we are altered by the results of those events and how we react to them. Like a river that changes the location of its banks through erosion, time tends to take its toll on all of us and leaves our feelings and emotions both smooth and jagged over time. My brother Michael bottled up his initial sadness and pain after Jimmy died and I don’t recall ever seeing him break down and cry like I had done upon receiving the news that Jimmy, then Michael, had died. Honesty, Michael was never the same after the death of Jimmy and I often wonder if it was because he felt the need to bottle things up, be a “man” and carry the weight for the rest of us. Sadly, I will never know.

As we get older, we tend to be hardened by the world and the scars of yesterday as they often make us less sensitive to the world around us. With the media and our channels of social communication, we ingest more news and information than ever before and that can cause a numbing of emotions over time. #Tryharder to understand that you are allowed to occasionally crack. You don’t have to always carry the weight for the rest of us and that thickening of our skin puts us less in touch with much of humanity. I’m not saying that we need to become fragile people that cry after every movie or change of season, but we do need to emote and occasionally be bothered or moved by things that happen around us.


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