Random Gun Violence in the Hood: Reliving Grief

An Amazing site on gun control: http://consideringharm.com/

It’s been a disconcerting week of gun violence in Seattle. Last Thursday a man driving in his car with his kids and parents was caught in the crossfire of a shooting and died in his father’s arms. It happened at an intersection that my kids and I drive past all the time. The man and his family live two blocks from my house.

Every time I hear of these incidences my mind wanders to the victim’s last moments. The confusion, the panic, the pain. It brings me to a place I keep thinking I’ve left behind – thoughts of Arron’s last moments that played over and over in my head for years. It wasn’t until I took my memoir class and had an assignment to write about something not actually experienced, something imagined. I used the exercise to imagine Arron’s last moments. I thought that by writing through my own trauma about the event, it might expunge the film loop in my head.

The words came pouring out. Some of it was horrific, but it ended so peacefully that my symptoms of PTSD began to dissipate as soon as the words landed on the screen. Only two or three people read that piece because I chose not to include it in the book. It seemed like it would be too painful for people to read. It felt like a secret I needed to keep between Arron and I, as if that was the only way to ensure the magic cure of writing those moments down would actually work.

And then another person finds themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another family is torn apart. As well as imagining the victim’s experience, I find myself reliving the survivor’s tale – those moments after witnessing the event or receiving the news. The shock, the numbness, the amazement that the sun still shines, flowers still bloom and people still laugh when life will never be the same again.

Perhaps that wife will hear of me, or I will drop my book off on her doorstep. I will tell her about The Healing Center which can help both her and her children. Perhaps I will sit in her living room and listen to her story, and I will offer her my words of experience, show her that life will go on despite her grief. Or perhaps she will find her own way, as we all do, eventually.

Just as we were all coming to terms with that random death, there was yet another shooting rampage yesterday in Seattle. A crazed man with a gun, killing four and then himself. More last moments, more ravaged families. More fear. A school nearby was shut down when kids saw a man jogging with his gun, out of fear for his own safety. A gun, that I suspect statistics will show is more likely kill him than any criminal who might be threatening him.

I won’t even begin to talk about the absurdity of gun laws in this country. That would take another bunch of posts. Our lenient laws need to change. I’ll just leave it at that. Well, OK, here’s an interesting chart I found:

Just Sayin'

So much senseless death and violence ensures we must endure the tiny ripple effects that each incidence generates, over and over, opening old wounds, perhaps creating new ones. Secretly, we’re relieved that tragedy didn’t strike us again. We push away those old, ugly thoughts trying to hide from the fact that in many ways it has.


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  1. John Stevens May 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Abby: I thought of you when I read that one of the partons at the Racer Cafe who fought the gunman, was motivated to fight back because his brother died in one of the towers.

    This is a beautiful blog post.

    1. Abigail Carter June 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks John,

      I read about the 9/11 connection too. Strange. I’ll be attending a tribute concert tonight for the circus contraption guys. Strange how things evolve sometimes.
      Thanks for you kind comments.

  2. Frouckje June 1, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I hope that gun-regulations in your country change. As a Dutch-woman I cannot understand that weapons are so common in your States. It’s so different in Europe, luckily. Allthough incidents that involve weapons do increase and we have had our burdens too!

    I read your book. We all saw what happened at 9-11. Some of it live at television. I never forget the images of people waving out windows and jumping or falling out the buildings. That was when I realised that there were actually human beings suffering. It was surreal, but it affected us all. For me it was good to read your story and be aware that lifes did change tremendously. I wish you luck!

    1. Abigail Carter June 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Many thanks! I appreciate your comments. I do wish gun laws in this country would change. Perhaps it would help to alleviate so many tragic deaths.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Boo June 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Abby, I think it was a courageous thing to write it out. When I wrote about Cliff’s last 12 hours it did help me, however my counsellor at the time suggested that I should read the blog post out loud (just to myself, not to an audience or anything) because she said that “it changed it”. And that it helped. But I haven’t managed it yet after 3 and a half years. I think you’ve just inspired me to do it <3

    You are wonderful stretching out your hand to comfort your neighbours. I was shocked to read the news … in my mind, Seattle is a peaceful city. Then I remembered that it's random – death, violence. There is good and bad everywhere. Seattle is lucky it has you to balance the darkness xx

    1. Abigail - Site Author June 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Yeah, it was cathartic to write for sure. I think when I wrote it, I was at about the 4.5 year mark. Don’t think I could have read it out loud though, even to myself. Maybe that would have made it seem more real. I haven’t looked at it in a very long time. I guess once it was written, I was able to shut that door.
      Not sure how much darkness I am balancing in this gray city right now, but if I’m needed, I will be there. Thanks for your sweet comments.
      XX, A

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