In the days since Canada’s worst mass shooting here in my home province, the correlation to our people as being resilient and stoic alike to the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse has been shared amongst the masses. Along with it, the rallying social media hashtag that we are #NovaScotiaStrong, in response to the terror that unfolded, has gone viral.
Of course, this is intended as a compliment in regard to our resiliency. In the Oxford dictionary, strength is defined as being able to withstand great force or pressure, and we’ve never been under greater pressure, with certainty.
While I believe that the sentiment of togetherness and connectedness is integral and of utmost Nova Scotian style during this global health pandemic, I take issue with the perception of appropriate mental strength, in response to what was, a psychotic mental health massacre.
I for one, haven’t been feeling particularly resilient, nor powerful, since this began on Saturday night. I do not feel I am possessing of self-determination, nor good self-control. I am, in fact, easily affected by hardship right now, and so, you won’t see my name under Oxford dictionary’s definition of strength.
And that Oxford definition of strength is the one our society keeps feeding my children, time after time. Meanwhile, in stark contrast, in the last few days my children have seen me both smile and cry. I find myself feeling fortunate, depressed, forlorn, grateful, exhausted, angry and helpless, all in the space of a single afternoon. My children simply observe me all the time and I cannot predict when the feelings will hit. Sometimes, the tears fall in the dishwater, and I do not run to hide them.
They’ve watched me call about 48 people in the last few days.
My son’s second birthday came and went, and a lump formed in my throat reflecting on his innocence. We ate cake and I went through the birthday motions, but there was more on display that day than just joy, and I don’t regret that.
My children observe me as their mother. I do not know that they would describe me as someone who is strong these days, but rather, as a person possessing many different emotions and I can be both a supporter, and still receive support.
I also, by the way, do not think they would describe me as weak.
And it gets me to thinking, what if, in addition to tooting the slogan of being NovaScotiaStrong, we could also leave space for NovaScotiaFrailty? What if, too, there was space and opportunity for NovaScotiaSadness, on the days we feel that emotion fits the bill and we wanted to reach out about it?
Today our weather was sunny, cloudy, hailing, snowing and sunny again. And we accept that as being perfectly imperfect. And, as being very Nova Scotian.
I am Nova Scotian and I am many things, as well as strong.
A lighthouse mustn’t always go it alone. Even a sturdy lighthouse needs its keeper, sometimes.
Keep watch. For yourself and for others, unconditionally.