All torn up

This James Kim thing is hitting us hard over here. I know that everyone sees it as a horrible tragedy, but I think here in Austin it’s especially wrenching.

James Kim was every man I know. His family is my family. It resonates so disturbingly close to us that my husband can’t even really talk about what happened. I mean, to guess that they were in traffic, coming home from Thanksgiving, and that maybe they consulted their Treo to find an alternate route home… we did that, too. Only we’re lucky enough to live in a warm, flat state where we can see the horizon for miles.

When you see someone who is basically your own age, who works in a similar field as you do, who has kids nearly the same age, and who becomes a superhero to save them, you expect that person to succeed as the invulnerable superhero, because that person is you.

You are invincible, impenetrable. Your family is the only family in the world – the reason you live, breathe, laugh and love. Of course you would do everything to save them. Of course you would use your ingenuity to keep them safe and alive. Of course you would sacrifice yourself for them. But in this world – in these times – when is that necessary? You know you would do it, but you’re (hopefully) never faced with a situation when you have to test that faith. And then you see someone who has to face a horrifying decision – and you see yourself in him.

I have always felt perfectly, overly confidant in the safety of my family, because I married a superman like James Kim. If bad guys ever tried to infiltrate our life, I’ve always known my husband would prevail. I’ve always said that if we got trapped in an overturned sinking ocean liner (a la the Poseidon Adventure), or if we got lost while camping, or if aliens tried to take over the world, my husband would keep us safe. His level head, his brilliance, his second sense of what’s safe and healthy and right and good would keep us all OK.

So seeing Mother Nature win the fight with James is devastating. And scary. And so close to my heart that if I think of it long enough, I can hear the discussions he and his wife must have had. I can feel their rising desperation. I can sense their struggle to stay calm and be smart and keep their children warm and fed.

I know there’s nothing I can do or say to the Kim family. They don’t know me and I know they’re being taken care of. But I want to reach out. I want to say "You are me. Let me help you. Let me mourn with you. What can I do? What can I say?"

It’s just too wrenching. And tragic. And way too close.

4 thoughts on “All torn up

  1. Lovely post, Kari. I’m right with you on this one. I wrote a short post yesterday about it, too, but your words here are compelling and reach to my heart. For me, it’s difficult to articulate how this crushing tragedy has affected my life lately.
    Thank you.


  2. Hi Kari,
    I understand why your husband can’t talk about this story, or will he be able to talk about others like it in the future.
    It’s a father thing, maybe even a parent thing, but something we know that we would do if it came to it.
    When all else is stripped away, your family define you, and are all that you are. But they are irreplaceable.
    No question!


  3. I’m sort of relieved to see that other people have had similar reactions to this tragedy. It has really upset me too. I’m sure the 7 month old won’t remember what happened; but what about the 4 year old? So sad.


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