When a deranged man full of hatred entered a nightclub in Orlando this spring, I was as far away as I could be whilst remaining within the same country. My heart broke as I read a list of names, wondering if, had it been a different man, a different city, a different club, I would find my brother’s name on such a list.
It hit too close to home.
Last night, I was on a date when I received a Facebook message from my mom:
“Are you home safe?
Not at the mall? …
3-4 dead. Gunman at large. Stay home please.”
I wasn’t at the mall. But I wasn’t at home.
The mall in question is in a tiny farming town less than a half-hour’s drive from my city.
As of today (Saturday the 24th), the gunman is still at large.
My heart breaks every time I look at the news and see headlines like: “Oil Pipeline Protest Turns Violent in North Dakota“, “Bomb Blast in Manhattan“, “Mass Stabbing Attack In Minnesota Mall Injures At Least 9 People“, and now, “5 Dead In Cascade Mall Shooting in Burlington“.
It hits too close to home.
Today has been beautiful. The sun kisses the earth goodbye as the air is heavy with the sweet scent of autumn’s arrival. Soft white clouds scuttle across the sky, buffeted by a wind that doesn’t reach the ground. Deep green leaves blush gold and red as cars of all shapes and colors, driven by people of all shapes and colors, go about their weekend business. One of the last stubborn wasps of summer hovers around a cup of coffee that was left on a picnic table.
It’s a beautiful day, and people are mourning.
Logically, I know people will always be mourning. Death is a part of life. But death at the hand of another is something… bigger. Heavier. Harder to swallow.
I’ve had two anxiety attacks in as many weeks over the news, and how it feels like my country, the place I’m supposed to be proud to call home, is collapsing, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Several weeks ago, I was on a bus to Northern Iceland. A man from Austria sat across from me, and we started talking about politics, because that’s all anyone wanted to talk about when they learned where I was from.
At one point, he told me, “You don’t sound very patriotic.”
“How am I supposed to be?” I asked in return.
He didn’t have a response.
His comment hit too close to home.
It’s a beautiful day, and my heart breaks for the community of Burlington, and the community of North Dakota, and the community of Chelsea, and the black community, and the Muslim community, and the community of the Earth.
We’re all human. If you cut us all open, we would all bleed red. Isn’t that enough?