I woke up this morning to the news of another senseless shooting in the US northeastern large city nearest to me. Four people were killed and fourteen were injured in a senseless act of violence towards people enjoying the night life the city has to offer. Innocently walking around, listening to music, shopping and eating.
Now there are four sets of parents, four families in mourning. Another set of fourteen parents and families hoping and praying their children and loved ones will recover and not be disabled by their injuries. No doubt all these parents and families are asking: How did this happen? Why did this happen? How could this happen? Did my child or loved one suffer without me there to help? Did they say anything? Did they think of me? Did they pray? Could more have been done to save or help him or her?
I know how you feel. I have walked in your shoes. My son, Chris, bled to death in the backyard of his shooting assailant while she calmly stayed on her back porch. He was seven hours away from home. She went nowhere near Chris to aid or comfort him. My Chris, who she knew well and said she loved. When she called the police, she said my son was a drug overdose. Toxicology screens later revealed he had no drugs in his system. He was not a drug abuser. One of many lies she told. She was known in the community. She had strong ties as her father was a politician, a powerful local official and past officer in the miner's union. A union with past rough and dangerous leaders. I believe her father fit in that category.
The hospital never called me. The local police came to my home to notify me. I tried to explain to them that there were many holes in their explanations. All to no avail. Then, all I could think of was how I was going to tell my husband, Chris' father. He was in a nursing home. He had all the major complications of diabetes. He was not expected to recover. He died six weeks later.
There were some irregularities and delays in the actions of the EMT's who were called. There were even more irregularities in the actions of the medical examiner. And a stubborn county solicitor who refused to look at all the facts. After many requests, the medical examiner agreed to send the results of his autopsy to my personal physician. I went over it with him. To my horror and profound sadness, he told me Chris should have survived his injuries. He did not get the proper emergency care. There remained unexplained delays.
Due to her father's influence, there was never any media coverage of my son's shooting. Nor, was there ever any inquest. And much resistance from the police to investigate Chris' assailant and to properly investigate the scene. The sum total of this was Chris never got any justice and never will unless someone comes forward with the truth. My only hope is someone one day will spill their knowledge to the police in return for leniency for themselves. But will the police even want to hear it or act on it? Not so long as her father lives.
I suppose all these recent shootings prompted me to think of this young woman and her parents. I wanted to ask her if her parents were still alive. If not, I wanted to tell her I hoped they were in hell where she will one day join them to finally get the punishment she deserves. No one escapes final eternal justice which is far more terrifying than earthly justice. I take comfort in that. Sometimes that is all we have when a perpetrator escapes earthly punishment and corruption abounds. She robbed Chris of his life, but I will not let her destroy mine.
As William Faulkner said at the end of one his novels, "They endured." And so we do as bereaved parents. Parents whose children were snatched away by unexplainable gun violence. Often shot by a person with an illegal gun. A person with the past history of violence and felonies who never should have had a gun. A person who is severely mentally ill and therefore dangerous in their delusions. Another person who should have never gotten a gun.
As bereaved parents, whose children were victims of crime, questions persist and swirl in our heads. I found it helpful to write a letter to my son to express all my feelings, all my regrets and ask him all my questions about really happened. I buried the letter with him at the cemetery. To put to rest all that was swirling in my head. I then put the same issues on individual scraps of paper in a small box at home. When concerns started swirling in my head, I said to myself they were safe at the cemetery with Chris and in the little box. God would reveal all in His good time. This helped tremendously.
Yet, here we again burdened in the US with the thought that more kids could be shot in school, shot on the way to and from school or when just playing outside or going to the mall, to church, at a club or enjoying a night on the town. And as adults we are not safe either. With rising crime rates, I am fearful for my new husband and myself. I am terrified to go into the above-mentioned city. We have a new car. My husband went into the super market , yesterday, while I stayed in the car and listened to music. It occurred to me that this was unsafe. That our car could be hijacked with me in it. Can't wait in the car again.
The loss of my son to gun violence and the steady rise of more crimes involving guns has made me ponder my own safety and mortality and that of my husband's. I am sure many of you may be having the same thoughts and fears. I know people in the city I mentioned say they are afraid to leave their homes for fear of being shot. I also must mention the spiraling number of drug overdoses and the hundreds of thousands of parents dealing with this grief.
Is America not better than this? Can law and order not be returned to our streets to preserve lives and prevent endless grief? Can we not provide more readily available mental health services? Addiction services? I believe illegal drugs are at the heart of many of theses crimes. Can we not better identify people who pose risks and take appropriate interventions to prevent tragedies? Can we not be realistic that there are evil people who will do harm and therefore should be separated in jail from the rest of society? Can we not elect responsible district attorneys who will enforce the the law and punish criminals appropriately?
Whatever your beliefs may be on these subjects, if you are in a good enough place, I urge you to call or write to your state and federal legislators to express your opinions. To tell your stories of personal tragedy. Bring it home to them. The phone number for the US Capitol building in DC is 202-225-3121. Just task the operator to connect you to your Representative on Senator. Give their names. Sometimes a staffer will answer the phone or you may get a recording to leave a message. Or call their local offices. Usually you can speak directly to a staffer there. If you look on the internet, you will find their websites and email addresses. You can send an email if you don't want to write a letter or call.
I have a plan to address school shootings with better school security to prevent a shooter from gaining entry to a school. And recommendations for the legal steps to be enforced for school/mass shooters. If you care to read it, it is on my other blog at www.ordinaryamericanview.wordpress.com. The title is "School Shootings Can Be Prevented." I hope you find it helpful and reassuring.
I fear the US (and maybe other countries) has become a godless nation. We do not live by the Ten Commandments. Public prayer is banned. There is no concept of right and wrong. People do not love or fear God or a Higher Power. Children are raised without a clear concept of what is right and wrong, to show respect for themselves and others, to accept personal responsibility and to attend religious services. Promiscuity abounds on TV. Video games, movies and song lyrics normalize violence and blur the line between fantasy and reality. Atheism is increasing. Relativism is the norm. Depression is increasing in young people. I believe because teens and young adults have no faith. No assurance that God or a Higher Power is there fo them to turn to in times of trouble. Schools are indoctrinating and confusing kids with very twisted ideas about life, about "victimhood" and about sexuality and gender over parents objections.
Because of all this, many of our children have suffered at the hands of evil, godless, disturbed, dangerous people. We have been left with picking up the pieces of our own lives. Remembering and cherishing our deceased children while trying to carry on. It is hard, very hard to hold it together when our hearts are breaking. When confusion, danger and injustice surrounds us. We still have responsibilities to our living children, our spouses, our homes and our jobs.
Depending on the place we are in. we can do one, several or all the steps I have outlined here. We need to pray. To invite God into our lives. To tell Him of our pain and anguish. To ask him for strength and courage. To meditate. To go to religious services. To keep a journal. To attend a grief support group. To force ourselves out of our homes when we would rather isolate. To set limits and realistic goals for ourselves. To seek counsel. To talk to our spouses. To memorialize our children with something simple or more elaborate in someplace where they lived, not at their death site. To help prevent similar tragedies.
This is what we can do to move forward bit by bit. To gain a life. Not the same life, but not a life of constant tears and isolation. A life can happen if we give it time and patience. We will have bad days, but they become less intense and less frequent. There is hope and light. We must be willing to reach for it.
"Be strengthened in your in being with power through the Spirit. Ephesians 3: 16