It’s been a very depressing couple of days. I’ve got some personal shit going on that I don’t want to elaborate on, so in Amy-land, it’s been kind of Eeyore-in-the-swamp gloomy.
But then a couple of things happened this week that just made me wonder if something’s in the air, or what exactly’s happening, and also made me want to tell all my people how much I love them. So hey, all my people. I love you. I’ll reiterate that again later. In case you missed it now.
First, the shooting in Colorado Friday morning. I’m sure unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (and if you have been, can I come under, too? I’ll bring desserts) you heard about this. The exact details haven’t been released, but apparently, an armed gunman entered a theater playing a midnight show of The Dark Knight Rises wearing a gas mask, dropped a smoke bomb of some sort, maybe tear gas, and then started shooting. As of the time I’m writing this, 12 people are dead and 59 are wounded. They expect the death count to rise as some of the wounded are in critical condition.
The shooter was a 24-year-old with a neuroscience degree who was working on his Ph.D. It’s early yet; no motives for the shooting have been reported. I would have to assume some sort of mental illness. There are rumors he was calling himself “The Joker” to the police. If it’s a revenge killing, I don’t think you shoot up an entire movie theater. I think you handle that one-on-one. Right? He also informed the police who took him into custody immediately following the shooting his apartment was booby-trapped and when they arrived, they found the entire place wired, whether for explosives or not, who knows. It’ll take days for them to sort that all out.
Everyone’s talking about this; gun control, or anti-gun-control (as if someone would have brought a gun with them to the theater, I guess, on the off-chance they could have killed him before he killed anyone else?), or stricter gun-control laws. There’s a lot of talk.
I’ve mentioned how I feel about guns before. I still feel that they shouldn’t be outlawed; there are a lot of people out there who are responsible with them. But as my lovely friend Elizabeth mentioned on her blog, the more these things happen, the more it plants that doubt in your mind. What can we do to stop these things? Can we do anything? Would stricter gun control laws stop this, or would people who were hell-bent on murdering rooms or schools or buildings full of people just find more and more and more creative ways to do so? Because listen, if there’s one thing we, as the human race, are good at? It’s finding creative ways to kill each other. We’re never at a loss for that. I hate to be all Bumper-Sticker Jingoism Girl, but the old “When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns” thing scares me a little bit, you know? Because pot’s not legal, but people have it. Hell, assault rifles aren’t legal here in New York State, but people have them, you know? If people want something, they’re going to find a way to get their hands on it. I don’t know what the answer is. I really don’t. I don’t know that anyone does. If they did, wouldn’t they have done it by now?
I just keep thinking about the people. The victims, who went to a midnight showing of a movie. Midnight moviegoers are a different breed. They’re usually really excited to be there; they’re big fans of the franchise, they’ve waited in line, they’re all amped up and ready to stay up late and watch a good movie. Suddenly, what seemed like a good time became a nightmare. At least twelve of them didn’t walk away from that. From going to a movie. Their loved ones are never going to talk to them again. Whatever they could have done in their lives – that’s done. Because some lunatic with guns decided to play executioner.
I also always think about the shooters in situations like this. I know it’s really easy to vilify someone who does something like this. And believe me, I don’t have a lot of love for someone who hurts another person. I don’t even like people who emotionally abuse others, you know? So I’m not by any means taking this kid’s side. But I have to wonder what was going through his head. He had to be not well. And as a person who takes mental illness pretty seriously, that upsets me. It’s not something to take lightly. This is someone who obviously needed help, and I’m sad he didn’t get the help he needed at some point. Yes, I know. It’s early. He could, I suppose, be a terrorist, or have been out to get his ex-girlfriend who happened to be at that show, or something. But it’s an odds-on favorite that for some reason, his brain was misfiring and he got it into his head that it would help, somehow, to murder a lot of people in a very short period of time in a very gruesome manner. And that makes me sad for him. Because he’ll eventually get treatment, now that he’s in custody, unless he gets the death penalty if that happens there, I suppose, and he’ll be living with the knowledge that he cut these people’s lives short while not in his right mind for the rest of his life. As I said: not sticking up for him. I just feel empathy for everyone involved, and that includes the shooter.
Right before I heard about the shooting, there was another situation, and that one hit a little closer to home.
My aunt and her best friend have been best friends for about forty years. They do everything together. I don’t think I’ve ever met the woman, or if I did, I don’t remember it (I haven’t lived where my parents do in almost twenty years) but by all reports, she was fantastic. She taught Special Ed; she was funny and lively and had a good sense of humor and loved her family and friends.
On Wednesday, my aunt was going to visit my great-aunt in Pennsylvania. Her best friend was supposed to go with her. At the last minute, something came up and she had to back out. My aunt invited my dad instead, so he tagged along. (Side note, for no reason other than to inject a little levity: on Wednesday night he called me from a bar, where they were having dinner. “Amy! Guess where I am?” he asked. I said I didn’t know. “The Tilted Kilt! It’s the SCOTTISH HOOTERS! It’s a nice family place, only with KILTS!” Sigh. Boys and boobies. They really never outgrow those, do they?)
On Thursday, up near where my parents live, there was a paving job going on. The Department of Transportation was stopping traffic and traffic was backed up. An eighteen-wheeler, for one reason or another, didn’t stop in time and rammed at full-speed into the line of stopped cars. The only people who survived were a DOT worker and the driver of the 18-wheeler, and the DOT worker isn’t expected to last.
In one of the cars was my aunt’s best friend, her daughter-in-law, and her two young grandchildren.
My dad was with my aunt when she found out, and was able to drive her home so she didn’t have to drive herself. Because she was kind of incapable. Her world had just come to a stop from a phone call she’d gotten from her husband, telling her that her best friend for forty years was no longer there.
Forty years. You’re best friends with someone for forty years, and then they’re just gone, just like that. In an accident when they weren’t even really supposed to be there in the first place – they were, until the last possible minute, supposed to be with you. My mom said my aunt hasn’t gone a day for forty years where she hasn’t spoken to this woman. And she’s just gone? I don’t know. How do you move on from that?
I can’t fully wrap my mind around this. I don’t know if I want to, to be honest. I keep trying to put myself in my aunt’s situation, how I’d feel if I got the call out of the blue that one of you (I’m not going to pick just one, because that seems like courting disaster; I told you the other day, I’m very superstitious about things like this) was dead, with no warning, with no chance for me to say goodbye. I can’t. I don’t want to imagine that. I can’t do that. I was telling someone about this today and I seriously burst into tears. I’m apparently quite emotional at the moment. Please forgive the waterworks, random person who got cried on.
It’s hard enough when someone dies slowly, but someone dying quickly like that, and randomly like that, whether in a car accident, or in a movie theater – well, there’s a lot of pain going around this week. A lot of heartbreak.
So, I promised I would reiterate. And I am, and I will. Hey, my loved ones, be you blood relatives or those who I’ve chosen as my nearest and dearest and (oh, thank you for this) who have chosen me right back: I love you. I can’t promise, because violence and death can be random, to be able to say goodbye to you, but I’m telling you today, because I want you to just know it, ok? I love you so much. Thank you for being the most amazing support group a person could ever have. I don’t want to ever lose you – so please live forever, or at least until a day after I die, thanks so much – but if I have to, someday, please go knowing that I love you and I appreciate you and my life would not be the same without you in it, and by that, I mean, it would not be a place I’d want to be, and there would be a void, a lack, and that would be the lack of you, and that’s a really big lack.
Tell your people you love them and if you’re in their vicinity, give them a hug today, ok? You never know when they’re going to be gone. I know. It’s morbid. Sometimes I’m dark and twisty Amy, it’s a thing that happens. Sorry.
Let’s have a week filled with rainbows and kittens to balance out the garbage of last week, ok? I think we all deserve that. Who do I talk to about that?
(Title’s a Winnie the Pooh quote: “If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” Which is sappy, but yeah, also kind of true. Sappy things can be true, too. Like trees! Trees are totally sappy. But they totally exist and are therefore true. Did I just blow your mind? Thought so. My work here is done.)