Given my own experience with gun violence, I’ve been contacted by media and advocacy organizations for my perspectives on Saturday’s mass-shooting in Tucson. I find that six years of reflection and examination have not given me one iota of wisdom or ability to make sense of the random events that place one person in harm’s way while another remains safe.
There are bound to be countless stories of lost car keys, phone calls, sudden illness and other random chances of fate that kept some folks away from that Safeway parking lot. People will invoke God, Satan, politics, and random chance in equal measure when contemplating Saturday’s events.
Even when all the facts in the events leading up to and including the shootings are known, they won’t make sense. How can they? ? How can we ever really follow and understand the logic of a sick mind? How can the randomness of who was there and who was not and who among the attendees was shot and who was spared ever make sense?
My single flash of insight through my own recovery is that life and health are capricious. Whether it be a winning lottery ticket, a chance encounter with celebrity, new romance, blue ice falling from planes, or random bullets, any one of us is a heartbeat away from the unexpected (both good and bad) at any given moment. How do you live with that level of uncertainty?
I try to remember what is truly important. I try to find the courage to say what is in my heart and on my mind. I try to avoid the regret of words unsaid. Perhaps that is one of the lessons we should each consider in all this senselessness. In your dying seconds, what message would you most want to convey? What if this IS your dying second? What if the next breath never comes? What will you leave undone?
All of my “great” thoughts and personal experiences about rehab post GSW, surviving TBI, media coverage, pointing fingers, free speech and access to our public servants will have to wait another day. They are still too raw and too jumbled to be shared.
On Saturday, personal universes were shattered and they will never fit together the same way again for the people impacted by the violence. Today there are empty seats at dinner; unfinished conversations, tasks that were left for later that will remain forever undone. Families are gathered together to mourn their dead and support their wounded.
These families are now too on their way to becoming “experts” in areas no one wants to develop expertise. Their physical wounds will heal but the emotional ones are always ready to be ripped open when the next “breaking news” bulletin thrusts them back to their own experience.
We are all left to ponder “what if…”