Reflecting on Tragedy While an Ocean Away from Home

April 19, 2023

Trigger warning: school shooting


After the Covenant School shooting:


Today the weather glows like spring might, possibly, one day, come. My nose is still sniffling with my last winter cold, but not yet sniffling with allergies, which have only grown worse since moving abroad. One of the many things you don’t think about when moving to another country: new country, new trees, new pollen.

At some point over the last few years, I wrote this in a journal: There is so much tragedy in the world, you can almost pick and choose what to cry about.

The word “worry” comes from the Old English “wyrgan,” which meant “to strangle.” I guess that is why now “worry” can mean:

1. To touch or disturb something repeatedly

2. To shake or pull at with the teeth

Like a dog gnawing at a bone, worrying at the meat there. Like my tongue probing a sore in my mouth or a rotten tooth, worrying at the pain there.


Worry, of course, also means:

1. To afflict with mental distress or agitation:                        make anxious

2. To feel or experience concern or anxiety:                           fret

3. Mental distress or agitation resulting from concern

usually for something impending or anticipated                    anxiety


Here is what I said to myself after the news:


I am hurting.

I am aching inside, and the bullets aren’t even inside

of me.

The bullets can’t even reach me here.


I guess it’s good to feel so strongly affected by tragedy every once in a while. It’s a reminder that I still can. That I’m still human.

I’ve been afraid that I’ve stopped feeling the pain at all. That I am numb to the sound of bullets and screams. It is good to know that this isn’t true. That even an ocean away, I can still break with it.


Of course, I want to return home one day (unscared).

I want to raise a family there one day (unscarred).

I want to drop my unborn daughter off at school without fearing

last kisses or empty car seats.


And they say my generation worries too much,

that we are anxious messes, and everyone has some sort of mental health problem nowadays—

but give us something to unworry about,

and I promise you, we will unworry it.


We will unworry it until there is meat on the bones again,

until the sores in our mouths heal themselves.

Until tears return to eyes and frowns upright themselves.

Until empty stomachs fill with food digesting.

Until insults and lies return to lips like knives

being sheathed and thrown away.


Until bullets return to guns and guns return to wherever the hell they come from.


Until we are no longer scared again.

Until we can walk with faces uncreased again.

Until we can make things right again.

Until we can make things whole again.


“Worry.” Merriam Webster,, accessed 4 April 2023.


Darby Brown is an emerging writer and poet from Nashville, TN. She has recently completed her MA in creative writing at the University of Birmingham in England and now lives in London where she continues to fall in love with the way words and stories can lead us toward a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us. In addition to being a monthly contributor for HYW, she serves as an editorial intern. Follow her on Instagram @darbybrownwrites.


Featured image by David Dibert on Pexels