Photograph of a parking lot, with seven police car lined up around the perimeter of the lot

It’s been a long day.

This morning, I was attending a Presbytery meeting at a church about 20 minutes from my home. (For those who are not Presbyterian, a Presbytery is like a local regional governing body of churches in the same area. For educators, it is akin to a school district.) Anyways, we were finishing up a beautiful worship service which centered youth who had recently returned from a retreat and the importance of diversity & love across our differences, when the pastor of the church, who had been scheduled to lead the prayers of the people, came to the front.

She was clearly flustered, but in as calm a voice as possible, apologized and said that we were in a lockdown situation, that there were active shooters (later renamed “armed suspects” for greater accuracy) who had fled from the Big Lots across the street into the church parking lot and were somewhere on the campus of the church or in the adjacent plaza. We were safest remaining in the sanctuary, and we couldn’t leave the building, but otherwise we could carry on. She took a moment to center herself and us and brought us together in prayer.

We were on lockdown for 2.5 hours in the sanctuary. The youth, who had come just for the worship service (which had nearly ended) had to stay through the entire business portion of the day, but we pretty much just carried on with the meeting, in the sanctuary. And then, as the meeting ended, as an alternate plan to get us lunch through the back access road had been devised, the two suspects were taken into custody and we were eventually allowed to leave.

It was strange to me the way it all just continued, business as usual, in what were not usual circumstances. But I suppose this is not so unusual either. It was not my first lockdown. I’ve been locked down in my office on campus. I’ve been locked down in my classroom when I taught middle school more than once. Close family and not-as-close (but not-so-far) friends have been involved in mass shootings.

I am so tired.

I am tired from today and I am tired from this week and the week before, and this year and the years before. I am tired of carrying so much when some around me carry so little and make light of things that will leave me tired for hours, and days, and weeks. I am tired of the reality that caring means carrying, that a capacity to hold space means a responsibility to hold so much.

After we were free to go, I came home and took a nap.

Then I brought my sister paperwork she needs to bring to her mother to take care of our father’s estate. Our father. A year ago on his birthday (which was two days ago, 9/22/21) would be the last time we would talk. In a week, it will be the one year anniversary of his death. He died someone I barely knew, but by all accounts, perhaps I am fortunate in that.

I did not tell my sister about the lockdown. But being on lockdown and my sister returning to see her mother reminded me of a time less than 18 months ago when she too was unable to leave her home, with imminent danger on the streets outside, laying with her mother on the ground, to avoid being seen and shot by the military in their neighborhood.

Then I took my 7-year old to our normal church service. I did not tell my children about the lockdown. We went to church like it was a normal Saturday. I sang. Those of us in the lockdown didn’t NOT talk about it, but it sits with each of us differently. For me, it is a weight.

I am tired.

My birthday is in 5 days. The anniversary of my father’s death is in a week. My sister’s birthday is in 12 days. I am grateful that my sister will get to spend all of these days rejoined with her mother again.

I miss my mother most around important days for me: my birthday, my children’s birthdays, her birthday, Mother’s Day. So I am carrying that, and the grief is heavy on the days when I “should be” happiest.

I am tired.

I have a life that keeps moving. October is a busy month. I travel twice, give a talk, preside over a conference, lead a department that has two faculty searches happening.

I am tired.

This is perhaps not such a coherent piece of writing. But since there is much I cannot say to those around me, it is what is here for me right now. I covet your thoughts & prayers, your warm embraces (if you are close), your joy, cute animal pics, delicious food recommendations.

I am grateful for the community of you that love me. It is a hard time. I am tired. The days are long. I hold all these things simultaneously. I know that community is stronger than all of the hardest times. But, I am tired, and humbly need to be held up by those of you that care.

2 thoughts on “Tired

  1. Thank you for offering this, BetinaSis. To say one is tired is so deeply humanizing and it interrupts all of the relentless capitalism that has us doing, doing, doing. Thank you for not normalizing lockdowns and what it means to live in a society that struggles to alter the conditions that make such violence common. Thank you for being tired, for being human. Rest, Sis, rest.

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