For Julia, as she mourns

Dear Julia,
I don’t normally respond to these mass shootings.  I’m left too numb by them, feel too helpless.  I don’t think of myself as particularly cynical, but in many ways I am and moments like these bring that cynicism to the surface.  But you asked what I thought, and I do have some thoughts.  I don’t think they are helpful, that I have anything particularly useful to say.  But I suspect you just want to know what others are feeling.

So here it goes. My thoughts, like yours, are unedited and unvarnished.

Today I had a rare day away from the news (radio, television, the internet, social media).  I’ve had severe pain in my right arm and shoulder for the last few weeks, so I decided to cash in on a massage deal and went to the Village for the day.  My plan was to have a cream tea and then to treat myself to a massage.  I heard in the background this morning that there had been a shooting, but I’m numb to gun violence, so what little time I spent on-line today was spent reading about Cory Booker, reading Ta-Nehisi Coates and joking around with his readers.

I went to the Village and promptly got lost.

All of this is to stay that I didn’t know until about six o’clock about this new, all too familiar tragedy.

It was very strange to be so out of step with everyone (I usually watch news events unfold in real time).  I “returned” to the world, after roaming around the Village, having a one-hour massage, and then tea and scones to an e-mail from my mother and then a phone call telling me about the killings.

She is too sad to talk.

My twitter feed was a jumble of rage and mundane announcements.  My facebook timeline begged for gun control.

As I tried to catch up with the news (and maybe with the grieving), all I could really think about was the ritual of it.  We have rituals around everything, even the murder of innocents. I knew without watching exactly what happened while I was away.

“Breaking News” flashed across news channels
Pictures of a parking lot
People crying
Images of first responders

I knew that the president spoke and that what he said would resonate with most of us
I knew that Trayvon Martin and the other recently murdered would be mentioned
I knew that some group that speaks on behalf of communities of color would note the special mourning sparked by deaths of suburban white children while scores of poor black kids in poor black neighborhoods are only mourned on a national level

I was sure that NRA would dig in somehow and that defenders of gun ownership would make astonishingly stupid statements, dipped in paranoia:
Cars kill people but we still let people drive
We have to arm ourselves against the government
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
My cold, dead hands!

Most of us would rail against the NRA
Some of us would call for better mental health services
Someone would say “let’s not name the killer”
Pundits would say they shouldn’t opine about the situation.  And then opine about the situation.

Social media would be a twitter

Eventually, I will cry along with everyone.

And wait for the next cycle to begin.
Your friend
In solidarity,


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