When it hits close to home…
It is a sad thing that my first post of a new year involves local tragedy. I use the word “tragedy” advisedly, as many things happen during a lifetime, and looked at from a very broad perspective, are part of the dance of life. Use of the word “dance” here is in no way meant to demean or make light of the real emotions involved. I have been filled with emotion all this day.
I woke up about an hour before the event occurred, with a blinding headache. This is unusual for me, and although I hadn’t been feeling tip-top for some days, I was surprised at this. I also felt a bit wary, as if there were tension in the air.
I made my morning tea and toast, and turned on the computer, as I generally do. I don’t usually look at the news outlets first thing in the morning, but, through my email, I am signed up for local breaking-news-alerts. Sometimes I find the notion almost funny—as there is very little breaking news in southern Arizona, other than occurrences regarding border security with Mexico, which is only an hour’s drive south of me.
I immediately noticed the name in the news, today. Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is MY congressperson, I voted for her each of the three times she ran for, and won, her congressional seat. I have heard her speak; she has left phone messages at my home letting me know when she’ll have a townhouse meeting near me. I’m on her email update list, and I follow her on Twitter. In short, although I’m not VERY political, she is the politician I am most in touch with.
Additionally, the shooting incident took place about 8-9 miles from me, in a shopping center I’ve visited frequently, usually while on my way to pick up supplies for a job. I had lunch at a restaurant a few yards away, just two days ago. I picked up some sundry items at the pharmacy next door while there. I had actually planned to attend one of Rep. Giffords town meetings when she came to my town.
As the day unfolded, I heard the incorrect report that the Congresswoman had died of her gunshot wound to the head. Tears streamed down my face. Later, it was reported that she survived her wound, and was recovering well after surgery. Her aide, a judge, and a little girl, among 3 others were not as lucky, and several others remain in critical condition. At this time, I don’t know if I knew any of the victims. It is possible. Tucson, though large in area has a small town feel and is a close-knit community, and as I’ve worked on the periphery of performing arts organizations, I have had occasion to help coordinate events with the mayor of Tucson and other political leaders.
I say this not to name-drop, but to show how much the community works together. This is very personal to us here, and even more stunning as it makes international news. The area where the shooting took place is normally very peaceful and congenial. Everyone knows the intersection and the small businesses surrounding it; it is a crossroads of the northwest part of the vicinity.
Our local news advised us to avoid the area, as the streets were shut down in all four directions. This is a major artery here, and I’ve passed through hundreds of times as my most direct route to get to meetings in central Tucson. I’m scheduled to attend a dinner tonight; I don’t know at this moment if I’ll be able to get there.
Mostly, in addition to those who were killed and injured today, I mourn the loss of freedom of expression. Ms. Giffords has always been known for her friendliness and for really hearing what her constituents have to say. She flies all the way home from Washington to have these meetings regularly. She is a moderate Democrat, and has been considered by some Republicans to be more the old style of Republican than are the current “Tea Party” Republicans.
Tucson is not a hugely important city in the United States; certainly it’s no Chicago or New York or Los Angeles. That something like this could happen so close to home has me rattled. I feel quite safe, or at least as safe as I always did, as the police have the suspect in custody, and it appears to be an isolated incident. But I felt, as I watched the national news coverage of the scene, much as I did when viewing the aftermath of 9/11…although obviously a much less impactful event in the scheme of things, there is a loss of innocence and joy that I and many will now have to work to recapture. My heart and my thoughts go out to all impacted by this and other similar events.
Peace; Salaam; Shalom ♥