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 â€“ 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 â€“ 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:
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.