I sit here in the wake of yet another mass shooting.
Two days have passed, and I’ve been silent. I just didn’t have the words. All of them seem so trivial at this point. I’m tired of sending “thoughts + prayers.” I’m tired of changing my profile picture to have some adorable border to “show support.” I’m just…tired.
My family and I go to Bayou Country Superfest every year – with the exception of last year. We went 3 years in a row, and the last 2 years, as much as I wanted to go, I’d be lying if I said this type of attack wasn’t on my mind. The last time, as soon as we purchased the tickets (7 months in advance), I immediately wondered if it was a mistake. We’d had a theater shooting close to home. It happened in the only theater we ever go to, actually. I “knew” one of the victims. I frequented her local shop and had just spoken to her a weekend or so before.
If you do even a little bit of research, you’ll find she was an incredibly talented person. Very involved in the community. Well liked. Loving husband. Just out for a night at the movies with a friend at our dinky little local theater. When you wake up to news of something like this so close to home, something changes in you. Suddenly it’s not just something that happens to “other people.” The mask of living in a “small town” fades away – mind you, Lafayette is our “big city.” Just in comparison to other places – and maybe because even though it’s a big city, you still get a “small town vibe,” – it just seems off the map.
No one would ever think to do an attack here.
Those sorts of things just don’t happen around here…except I guess looking back, they do.
We had the Baton Rouge Serial Killer. The Mickey Shunick case. I guess I kind of swept those under the rug because the victims were people I FELT I never could have been. Mickey was riding her bike at night alone. The serial killer victims were in another city and let someone they didn’t know into their home (if memory is serving. It’s been quite a while.) Mind you, I believe the killer would pose as a service person – which is why to this day I am strapped anytime someone from the satellite, internet, or any other company comes to my home.
But when this random shooting occurred. At the theater we frequented. On a random Thursday night. No explanation. Just a hate filled person looking to inflict pain on the rest of the world. Suddenly, this wasn’t something that happened to “other people” in “other towns.” Evil came to MY town. And it could have been me. It could have been us, so when we clicked “Buy” on those tickets a few months later, my mind flooded with thoughts like never before.
What if something happened?
What what if we were killed?
Who would take care of the kids?
Would they love them? Treat them kindly? Make sure they grew up to be good people?
Because evil had come to MY town. It sat in MY seat. It munched on popcorn and opened fire and there was nothing our small town cover could do to make it stop or take it back. So this was no longer something I could pretend couldn’t happen to me, and I had to make a decision.
Was I going to allow fear to take away the things I loved or was I going to live my life and trust that God had a perfect plan for my life?
Sunday night was a completely different city. A completely different town. But it was all my fears come true again. It COULD have been me. It COULD have been us.
I read an account of a couple in the front. They were with friends. They dropped as they heard the gunfire and the woman told her fiance she had been hit. He stuck his finger in her wound to try to stop the bleeding and carried her out. He held her as she died, and as she did he told her how amazing she was and how much he loved her. And somehow it was rather easy to replace my husband’s face with his and mine with hers – not because I want to make this about me, but because once again, I realized this could have very easily been us.
And that realization there is what makes me want to not be a part of this world anymore. It makes me want to turn off the computer. Turn off the cell phone. Say goodbye to everyone I know, and just go off into the woods and live off the land. I’m so tired of all the hurt. I’m so tired of all the fear. I’m so exhausted from the hate, and I’m just one tiny person with no way to stop it.
Except that I’m a tiny person who lives in a big world, but I serve an even bigger God. And we are called to be salt and light, and so I will NOT live in fear. Or rather, I will not let it control me. I will go on about my daily life. Be kind to others. Pray for those who hurt and those who were lost – because there are no words that can take away the hurt of the families affected other than those offered up in prayer. I don’t know why this happened. Maybe we never will. But I will honor those taken by not allowing fear to win.
I won’t worry that I might be next. I won’t worry about all the what ifs. I will live my life. I will love people. And when I draw my last breathe, I will not regret the risks I didn’t take or the life I didn’t live.
It COULD have been us…
But it WASN’T.
I’m going to live as such.