This tragedy did not happen to me

This tragedy did not happen to me.

But its shadow falls on all of us.

It darkens every school doorway. Every home. Every business, every gate. When I pick my children up in the afternoon. When I drop them off in the morning. When I lie awake in the middle of the night, afraid of tomorrow, too afraid to sleep.

I was in the lunchroom with my daughter when I read the news. It was cold and surreal. To suddenly become aware of every exit. Of how exposed the space was, we were.

This tragedy did not happen to me. To us. Any of us, in the lunchroom. Its shadow was there.

As I write this, it is in the shadow of the latest shooting.

When I publish this, it will be in the shadow of another.

Because there is always another.

One after another.

We load our children into the chambers and we throw them away when spent. We bury the ones they are pointed at. We watch as it hails brass, and tears, and hollow families, and we stamp out more shells, more cartridges, more carbines. This tragedy did not happen to me but its shadow falls on all of us and the grave markers are waist-high like the children at their feet.

This tragedy did not happen to me and I cannot imagine what it is like, to suffer beneath it. But I try to imagine—I am trying every hour, in unexpected gasps and in skipped heartbeats, I am trying to imagine—and while it did not happen to me it is happening to someone else, and someone else, and someone else, and someone else.

One after another.

This tragedy did not happen to me but its shadow falls on all of us. And we should recognize it, when it does.

Because it’s our shadow.

In less than an hour, I am leaving for my daughter’s school. It is awards day. I will sit in her classroom and I will be so proud of her, I am always so proud, so proud and so disbelieving that I could ever be as lucky as I have been, to be her daddy. And while I sit there and watch her face, smiling and a little unsure and cheering for her friends, I will look for the exits. I will listen down the long hallway.

This tragedy did not happen to me.

But there will be another.

One after another.



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Dictionaut, no. 4

Strangers are friends I haven’t met yet. Drop me a line.