A terrible thing of the sort that only happens to Other People has happened to someone I know. To very dear friends of my very dear friends. It's the sort of thing that's impossible to quantify, and... I don't know. It seems impossible and unbearable. I forget about it while I'm focused on something - as I'm not in the immediate circle of this family, I have that luxury - but then it rushes up from the depths, the seemingly impossible reality of it, and it's torturous. I have no idea what to do with the grief and horror of an event like this.
Something of this magnitude happened once before in my family, to my uncle's family. Exactly the sort of thing you think doesn't happen to people you know. People survive, they carry on, they grow up and have babies and seem to grow around their grief the way trees grow around iron hoops or bicycles chained to them.
It's a terrifying thought to encompass, as we struggle through our daily grind - we never know how close each day comes to being so immeasurably worse. Perhaps we are a hair's breadth away from trauma all the time, and the miracle is that it doesn't happen more often?
We are too fragile. Our bodies, our minds, our hearts. Too much potential for breaking.