A week ago, a terrorist let his machine gun loose on a crowd of people in our beloved city. Las Vegas was our home- the place where we started our married life, where we had our babies, where we rooted ourselves in the community we nurtured. But we weren’t there when the shooting happened. We were here, in our beds, with our children sleeping in the room next to us, unaware of the hundreds of lives being shattered overnight. It wasn’t until one of our kids woke up crying from a bad dream that I saw the text from my friend: “There’s a mass shooting in Vegas happening right now.”
I somehow fell back to sleep, but the next day started as usual. My alarm rang at 6 am. I got school lunch ready for my daughter. The kids got dressed, we ate breakfast, and as on any other Monday, I hurried the kids into the car so we could get to school on time. Everything was as it should be in our world- the traffic, the arguing over personal space, the fast walking to get to the classroom line before the first bell. Everything was the same, except that it wasn’t. Everything was the same, except that it wasn’t.
Everything was the same, except that it wasn’t.
My body and mind went into executive mode, ready to get to work and delegate what needs to get done, but there was no work to be done so far away. What do I do with my hands? What do I do with my 3 year old while images and sounds of chaos and confusion and death still swirling my head? How do I live a normal Monday with my family when others are mourning the loss of theirs?
I read as much as I could. I took in the numbers of deaths, of those injured. I saw the posts and hashtags, but I couldn’t reconcile the weight of pain for our city with the seeming superficiality of each “Pray for Las Vegas” post I scrolled by. Like a mother, I wanted to put my arms around it to hold it while it cried, to protect it from the good intentions of those who meant well but who didn’t know it like we did, who hadn’t lived there and loved it like we did. For once I didn’t have the capacity to keep scrolling, so I closed my computer and walked away from my desk.
I put my hands to work. I chopped vegetables for the curry we had planned for dinner, careful to cut the potatoes, carrots, and meat the same size, to cook them to the right point. I didn’t want to rush through to get a decent dish out of it. I wanted to be deliberate, to pay attention, to care about the food I was making for the people I love.
I sat with my 3 year old and was present. I guided his pencil as he traced the dotted lines to his name, and I marveled at his long eyelashes, at his pure enjoyment of “homework,” at his contentment with life at that very moment with me. Living Monday after a Sunday tragedy is standing in the tension.
Living Monday after a Sunday tragedy is standing in the tension.
I grieved, and I lived life at the same time. I still got angry and frustrated when the kids didn’t listen, when they ate their dinner as slow as sloths. I kept my dessert meet-up with friends for cream puffs the size of fists, and we talked about race, life, the craziness of our country and this world. Mostly we laughed, and we lingered too long in the parking lot sharing stories and hope for things to come.
The week since has been a mixture of tears and laughter, of mourning and celebration, of crying out for justice and being faithful in the mundane. Living Monday after a Sunday tragedy is standing in the tension. It’s moving forward but not forgetting. It’s calling out evil while living fully into our gifts, our calling, our art, our life.