Stronger Than You Think

AUTHOR: | POSTED: January 18, 2011 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: Pre-2/16 & Post-2/16, Tags: , ,

Carolyn Savage

I know exactly where I was when I heard that the tragic events of January 8th in Tucson had claimed the lives of six people.   As the story of what happened in that Safeway parking lot unfolded throughout the weekend, I admittedly fell into tears several times.  The images of the injured and dead, the heroism of the first-responders, and the bravery of the individuals that ran towards the mayhem, caused tears of sadness, fear, and gratitude.  Of course, I prayed for the recovery of the injured, but there was something about the lives lost that left an imprint on my heart.

The day after the shooting, NBC managed to get an episode of Dateline dedicated to the nightmare on the air for prime time viewing.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it.  The whole thing was so damn upsetting, but I felt obligated to the victims to hear their stories.  I thought maybe, just maybe I could learn something from them.  And that, I did.

Turns out that the victims of the Tucson shooting were a rather impressive bunch.  Gabe Zimmerman had an incredible passion for helping others.  He was only 30, but clearly was wise beyond his years.  Phyllis Schneck was a mom, grandma and great grandma.  She belonged to a widow/widowers group that met every Friday for lunch to enjoy one another’s company, knowing that loneliness after loss needs to be combated.  Dorothy Morris had been married to her husband for more than 50 years.   She must have been a patient woman, full of love for her family and for life.  She sounds like someone I could have learned from.  Dorwin Stoddard died protecting his wife, Mavy .  The selflessness in his last act can teach us all a thing or two about love.  Everything I have heard about John Roll tells me we have lost a man of great integrity.  I read that he had just attended Saturday morning mass and was on his way home to wash the floors.  (He washed the floors every Saturday morning.  Sean does the same thing.)  He was brilliant, obviously.  Of course, the youngest victim captured the nation’s heart.  We’ve all seen the beautiful pictures of Christina Taylor Green in her ballet costume and heard of her tenacious personality.  There is no doubt that she was destined to be a real go-getter.

While watching Dateline, I thought about the bad luck of it all.  How could such an extraordinary group of people be in the same place, at the same time?  Then it occurred to me, of course they were special.  They had all taken time out of their Saturday mornings to speak with their congresswoman.  Not everyone is that motivated.  This was a random act of violence in a purposeful setting.  The people that were in attendance had something to say and had given it some thought.  We lost a lot that morning.

Towards the end of the episode, I was incredibly moved by the interview with John and Roxanna Green.  I couldn’t believe that they had the ability to sit down, only twenty four hours after their daughter’s death, and speak so eloquently about their baby girl.  I thought, “I could never do that” but was reminded of the countless times people said that to us regarding our situation.  I’ve always responded, “Yes you could.  You are stronger than you think.”  Obviously, the Green’s circumstances are far worse than anything we have ever endured.  They lost their daughter.  We can only imagine their pain.  But I can see why they agreed to the interview as it was an amazing tribute to their daughter’s life.  Their strength and love for Christina carried them.

In the aftermath of the Tucson shooting tragedy, I’m making a few promises to myself.  I promise to cherish the time I spend with loved ones because time is precious.  I promise to remember to be patient with Sean, even when he is cleaning the floors at an inopportune time, in hopes that our marriage lasts at least fifty years.  I’m going to remember to respect the energy of young people, recognizing that some of our youngest citizens are our wisest.   And, for John and Roxanna Green, I’m going to hug my kids a little tighter, knowing that I’m lucky because I can.

I’m praying for strength for all of the victims knowing that there are tough days ahead.  After the hoopla is over, the cameras are gone, and the nation has seemingly moved on, they are going to have some dark moments.  So my prayer for them is that when the darkness comes, they remember that they are not forgotten and that they are stronger than they think.

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