I didn't sleep well last night. In fact, it was 3 am and I was still laying there in the dark, trying to make sense of what's happened to our small community.
I wasn't at the mall.
My kids (thank God) weren't at the mall.
But some of my friends were. I know people that ran from the building, confused and afraid for their lives. I know someone who hid in a bathroom with their child, while a murderer slaughtered five people not far from where they huddled.
We're a small community. It's likely that most of us either had family in the mall or surrounding businesses, knew someone that went through it, or were there ourselves.
We are all impacted by this, and the nation ... the world, is watching.
What are they seeing?
I think back over the other, similar tragedies around the nation recently and how I reacted to them. I was horrified, sometimes I cried, but I didn't have this balled-up, sickening feeling festering in the pit of my stomach like I do sitting here now. The rest of the world will quickly move on in a day or two, and soon the word Burlington or Skagit County will only be 'that place where the mall shooting happened', but for those of us who live here ... this will be a long, painful process that will never quite go away.
We are now brutally aware of how fragile our society and safety is. And this isn't the first time we've seen it so raw and exposed.
Just eight years ago, Zamora went on a killing spree that left six people dead. Six people that left behind a gaping hole in so many lives. I knew one of the people murdered that day. I don't know yet if I know any of the victims from last night, and it took me hours this morning, after a restless sleep, before I even looked at facebook or the news. I'm afraid to see the names, because then it makes it all real. The grieving begins.
There is already a vigil going at on at Maben park. There are several local fundraisers for the victims families, even though we don't know who they are yet. There are more vigils planned, and acts of community support. I encourage anyone who feels a need to be a part of these to DO it. It's important. Because even if you weren't there, you are a part of it. It will affect you, and it's necessary to process those emotions.
Now, more than ever, with the nation watching, let's be the example of a community that IS strong for each other, and together. But God, please, let this be the last time that the name of one of our small towns hits the headlines. We've been there so many times lately, and it's hard to make sense of why.
We live in such a beautiful place, and I have a hard time merging the two realities. Be kind to each other, especially now. Remember who we are.