Las Vegas

Last night we finished swim class at the University and were giving our children a snack. ABC News played phone footage from Las Vegas, and the first responders radio feed which told fellow emergency personnel to forget about the victims and, “Find the shooter!”

I turned to our son, “Look at me, bud. Let’s talk about school, today.”

“Okay,” he said, staring at the screen. If the screen were static, he’d still stare it.

“We’ve got to go,” I told my wife.

“I agree,” she said.

“Just grab our stuff,” I told her before turning to my son, “Race you to the car?”

“You’re on,” he said with a four-year old’s vigor.

“On your mark, get set, go!”

He ran as fast as he could down the hallway. I walked. Something in me refused to run.

He stopped at one point, pretending to be out of breath. “You’ve got to run, daddy! You can’t catch me unless you run!”

“I will. I will,” I told him.

But I was thinking about too many things to run. I was thinking about him and his sister, my baby girl. I was thinking about me and my wife and what we do as parents when the biggest massacre in United States history occurs.

I was thinking how odd it was that I didn’t bring the subject up with my students that day. Normally, we talk about these events. But yesterday, the day after the morning that everyone on the east coast woke up to the news, I didn’t want to think about it. When I did, I got angry. Angry at the lone deranged man. Angry at the country we live in for twisting politics and profit together so tightly that the flag of our rights can be waved in front of the fifty-nine dead.

My wife was full of nervousness and anxiety when she got home from work.

I couldn’t tell her anything either. I’ve learned that in these moments, I just need to listen. I’ve learned there is nothing to say in response to the panic a mother feels for the safety of her children. I don’t need to tell her anything because I can only provide the security she needs by being her support. There’s nothing I can do to calm that nerve. Not when Las Vegas happens, and Orlando happens, and San Bernardino happens, and Aurora happens. These things aren’t past tense. They are a part of a recurring present, a dark stream in our national subconscious. They worry my wife. They wake me up before my alarm to write.

And we’re the lucky ones. We’re the ones who don’t know anybody directly affected by the tragedy, except for ourselves. We are affected. Except for everyone with children, with loved ones. They are affected. Except for everyone with anyone to raise or teach or mentor or care for. We are all affected.

I sheltered my children from that awful news. They will have their own news to process one day. For now, I race my son to the car.

When we got outside and into the cooling fall evening, my legs start working again. I ran diagonally across the grass to catch up.

“Daddy! Wait!”

He must have lost a shoe. Happens all the time.

So I wait for him to catch up.

 

21 Responses to “Las Vegas

  • Thank you Mark. Im just so done right now. On so many levels. I feel that my talk and my life of mercy and unconditional love and forgiveness are so stupid. So inadequate. Yet the shooters, the evil will win if I give up my principles….but anger, YES! I went to my meeting last night and when it was my turn to share I had no experience strength and hope to share. I said instead, “Tonight I am irritable and discontent. Im filled with rage, Im livid. Im tired of all of this….violence, being patient, being powerless…I want to resort to old behaviors of barging through life and forcing solutions. Step 1-3…the foundations for my life. I am powerless, God will restore me to sanity, and I give Him my will to mold and do with as He will. Thank you for your post…and for racing your son and shielding them from evil. You are a good dad.

    • I think unconditional love and forgiveness are the only answers. But since we are human we can be angry for a while too.

    • Thanks Annette–but it’s not stupid. That’s the anger talking. However you chop this all up, the virtues of kindness and forgiveness must reign supreme right? I think that’s the hardest part. The hole–what is it all for if this can happen?–thing. It’s real for me right now. So I am giving you advice that I might as well be giving myself as well. Hang in there, I say. This won’t pass though. This stuff never totally leaves, I think. We just change and do our best regardless.

  • My 12 year old daughter woke me yesterday with the news.
    We had just come home from Vegas last Monday. She had been at Mandalay Bay with her dad to see Cyprus Hill a few months ago.
    There was also an attack in Edmonton, Alberta…which is right near us…on Saturday night. A person ran a van into a crown and stabbed a police officer.

    I can see her fear and I wish I could say something that would take it away, but I can’t. I can only tell her I love her and that we all have to live our lives looking ahead, with cautious optimism. And to love each other as much as we can.

    It just makes me tired and sad….but I know love is always the answer.

    Anne

    • Thank you for sharing that Anne.

      It’s incredible to think how close you were on two accounts to total atrocity. I’m so glad you are who you are, Anne. Letting love lead the way despite the fuck-all world we are living in.

      Cautious optimism is a great way of describing what we need. I’m in total agreement there.

  • This is important Mark. I was an uninjured victim of a terrorist attack when I was 13. The I.R.A. bombing of the Ideal Home exhibition which I was visiting with my Mum, took many lives. I saw things I will never forget. However, although we must never forget and always be vigilant, the mundane must always take precedence. Keep telling it like it is my friend. x

    • Wow. That’s incredible that you were there for that attack.

      The closest I’ve come was when the twin towers were hit, my dad and stepmom were unaccounted for for hours. They lived right next to the towers. But they, and my siblings were safe.

      I’m glad you dropped by to let me get to know you a little better today Alan. And thanks for being there for me with all this. Let’s both of us keep telling it like it is.

  • My wife remarks to me last night after turning out the light, “I think it says something about our society that not a word was spoken about Vegas in my office today.”

    I don’t pray often, but I said a few fox-hole prayers that my son wouldn’t ask about it yesterday. Thankfully, he didn’t. It was a horrible day.

    • Your wife is on to something I think.

      I discussed it in a few classes today. It’s just become so commonplace. It’s really frightening that we’ve become conditioned to expect this sort of tragedy. And our politics keeps us from engaging in sensible debate. It’s becoming more and more difficult, I’m afraid, to distinguish our politics from our dollars–or maybe our greed. I wonder what arms and ammo stocks did after yesterday. Can you imagine? Buying stock in rifles after yesterday?

  • Just back from London, always sitting when out to eat with back to the wall and the entrance in sight. Always have two routes out. Been doing this since 62, USMC & State Police. My children are grown, we’re getting greats now, so much to process. Well put Mark, as for me and running, no longer with the Big Dogs. Peace my friend.

    • And peace to you, as well.

      I’m in a weird way relieved that my children are too young to have a conversation with them about it. Although I know I will have that conversation…one day.

      That’s wild how vigilant you are. Afraid I’ve joined you in paranoia lately. It’s just not worth taking too many risks nowadays when what matters you could be gone in an instant.

  • Oh, Mark. I am crying for you and your wife and little ones. Hold them all tight. Tell them they are so very much loved.

  • God help us all.

  • I am with you in the sheltering of the little ones. We have been dealing with tube bombings and most commonly moped muggings here in London. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t question what is going on in the world and how am I supposed to protect my children from it. I still have yet to find the answer.

    • Hi Mrs. S-

      Thank you for chiming in. I’ve been wondering more and more if there is an answer to something so senseless as those things we both mentioned.

      If there is an answer it doesn’t come easily. Not by a long shot. I would be happy to hear ways you’ve coped. A friend of mine. You may know him, actually, Paul from Twitter, told me that he blocks out words from his accounts so he doesn’t see all the devastation happening around the world. I’ve been toying with the idea.

  • What a huge responsibility to have to protect their young minds from the horror and pain being acted out in the world today. I can hardly process it for myself sometimes. You do sound like a great dad. I hope you and your family have a safe and peaceful weekend.

    • We did. Thank you for saying that. Doing the best I can. Social Media’s weird because I protect my family on here too. As in, I won’t let every detail of our family become publically accessible. So a lot of times, all the public sees of my family is (no doubt) when I am doing good things as a dad, haha. But thank you for your comment. I try really hard always to do my best.

  • I despair too. It seems that the collective madness of the human condition is so bloodthirsty and out of control. the only thing I keep telling myself is that things like this happen to wake us up. We need to stay and keep conscious through this and keep our children in love and light. When enough of us are awake and operating from a place of love the zeitgeist simply has to shift.

    • I agree, Hurrah. With the shifting of the Zeitgest. I’m so glad we’ve been able to correspond and keep a fluid exchange of ideas. Not only on sobriety, but life, to better improve our own approach to it.

  • Mark, such honest and necessary writing about this. Unfortunately gun violence occurs everyday (which we often don’t hear about) and massacres are becoming more and more commonplace. Unfortunately this is a time of pervasive corruption and “twisting politics and profit” and ignoring humanity continues, there are more dark times ahead.

    But your piece also describes the light we can create, with loved ones, families, friends, communities. A safe and loving light. We must must take care of each other and not forget THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
    Loving kindness to you, and your family, and those precious children.

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