While this was going on, I was enjoying a party. There was food, singing, conversation, and much laughter. It was a fun time. And yet, as we sang and ate and laughed, a few blocks away people were being shot and killed by someone they had never met.
Life can be so random…such a surprising mix of delight and sorrow, of celebration and tragedy.
Had I not looked at the news, I would have been sitting there in my home – safe, warm, and untouched by the horror of the previous evening. But there I was: presuming I didn’t know the victims or the shooter (names had not been released) but picturing the exact spots where each shooting took place. These are innocent places, safe places…clean and well-lit places. These are places you walk through without looking over your shoulder. A car pulls in and you think nothing of it.
Of course, one random incident doesn’t change the fact that they’re still safe places. People will still show up at Cracker Barrel to get their breakfasts and brunches. They’ll still browse the lot at Seelye Kia. And they’ll do so safely, without concern.
While we know these places will continue to be safe, we grieve their loss of innocence. They now bear the stains and scars of meaningless violence. And we, people of Kalamazoo living here or miles away, like so many other communities before us, feel the weight of having a mass shooting in our own backyard.
While each of us carries the scars of personal tragedy and loss, today we continue to mourn our collective loss…and we need to give ourselves the space to do so. Even though there are things to do, each of us needs to deal with this. We need to allow ourselves the time and energy to get past the disbelief and anger. We need to open ourselves to the company of others who grieve with us, so together we may let this moment find its way into of our life experience.
Yes, we’ll eventually move on, but not today.
Today we grieve.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love. Washington Irving
Those unfamiliar with the events in Kalamazoo may read about them here (read now)