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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Storming the Bastille

da da da dum dum dum dum dah de dum ta dum dum do dum dee dee dum

Oh to be young and whimsical again. Why have we stopped doing this? Dang.

Bastille Day. Precisely at six o'clock a.m. our radio would wake us -- loudly -- to La Marseillaise. Talk about a wake up call!

We'd sit right up, and salute, right there in bed.

"Allons enfants de la Patrie Le jour de gloire est arrive!

Come! Our day of glory has arrived!"

Those days of glory are always also days of blood.
Of death.

One need only remember Les Miserables to be clear on this.

There are no days of glory without days of sacrifice and risk.

Lest these pages seem morose and bleak,let's remember the essential:

There are days of glory that follow those days of sacrifice, risk, and even blood.

* * *

Fourteen years ago today, July 14, 1997, was a Sunday. I have no memory of what we Erickson-Pearson's were doing, oblivious.

My brother Jim, fifteen miles away, was almost beaten to death with a brick. He escaped and ran down the street out of his house to summon help. The stains of dark red blood on his white shirt and shorts haunt my memory to this day.

The next several weeks were frightening for all of us, as his assailant threatened to finish the job and even harm others most precious to him.

I confess, I feared for my brother's life constantly. And for my children. Constant vigilance. It was exhausting. And excruciating. It continued to be a threat for several months. Tragically, the man who attempted to kill my brother succeeded at killing himself on Thanksgiving.

"Out of the rot and the ruin come the rumors of resurrection,"
and not only rumors.

Jim is more alive and more healthy today that he was for many years even before the attack. He is claiming the gifts of life every day.

Of course, it doesn't come quickly. There is no Oprah magic to this healing process. We want it to come on our terms. Quickly. And those around us want us to heal up fast. Move on.

It does not work that way. We each have our own narrative. And our own histories that factor into our new experiences. You can imagine that my trauma was made even worse after having gone through this experience alongside my brother. Trauma piled on top of another. And likewise mine triggered his "stuff," a few years later.

Jim can celebrate his recovery, ever vigilant, and today is a very significant day for us, one we remember with somber sadness and with deep gratitude for the gift of Jim's life, flowing freely and lively along with us, as he says, in the flow of the circles of life. It is a beautiful thing to behold! Life!

Storming the Bastille involves going up against abuse and structural violence. It feels like glory for about half an hour before dawn. Then it gets ugly. But eventually, France was free, and so are we.

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