the aftermath of tragedy
My sister and I were eating falafel when she finally heard about the shooting in Aurora.
I’d read the news that morning, and, like everyone else, I was shocked and horrified - but the story was somewhat removed from me. I live about two hours from Aurora. I don’t know anyone from Aurora. I don’t know anyone who was near Aurora that night.
I had forgotten that my sister goes to school near Denver.
So while we were having lunch in a cafe near Colorado Springs, she got a text from a friend.
I saw her read the text; I saw her eyes go big and shiny with tears. She blurted out something about “shooting in Aurora” and “I need to call Cody / Alex / Jamie / Jenna” - a thousand names, a thousand people who could have been at that theater.
I had forgotten.
Everyone was fine, by the way. She knew a few people at that theater, but all of them survived. And after about an hour or two of shock and panic and desperate prayer, we continued our day as if nothing had happened.
Except that’s not true. Because suddenly, life was fragile again. Time became that much more precious. My friends, my sister, my boyfriend, casual acquaintances - they were beautiful, wonderful human beings and I could not stop hugging them. I wanted to hold Ryan’s hand for hours. I wanted to cry and laugh at everything. I wanted to stay awake all night talking with these people I loved, because they were alive and I was alive, and why not? Why waste time?
I will never be someone who claims that tragedy is either God’s will or God’s punishment, but I will say one thing about tragedy - it wakes us up. It is not pleasant, and it is not good; but it reminds us what is important. It forces us to step outside our carefully-constructed bubbles of material possessions and social status and petty disagreements. It screams in our faces: “Hey. You are here. You are alive. Don’t take it for granted.”