As I was at work this morning, at exactly 5:47--I had just looked at the clock--my boss comes up to me and tells me about a shooting at a midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises. She told me about it mainly because I've been incessantly talking about the movie for the last two days at work, prattling on about how excited I am to see it.
Since then I've felt this awful sadness whenever I think about seeing the movie. I'll be going out with my wife and best friend on Sunday morning. It isn't often I get truly emotional about things like this. When Virginia Tech happened, I felt bad for the victims but it didn't hit home for me. Maybe because I've been thinking about going to see the final Chris Nolan Batman film, putting myself in that chair mentally for weeks now. Maybe that's why I feel such serious disquiet about the shooting.
Not that twelve people's deaths isn't enough. You hear about these kinds of things on the news and your brain transforms it into a sense that it won't happen to you. My brain is telling me that it could. That could have been me, my wife, my best friend Patrick. We live in Kentucky, of course, but the idea is the same. One minute we might be enjoying the film, the next just gone.
The randomness of it staggers me. So senseless and terrible. I write a lot of deaths into my work, some of them gruesome and truly awful. I talk about the waste of it and the loss of human potential and love and wonder that happens when a person passes away.
And I feel that so much right now. As if those folks were my friends.
I posted a tweet about the shooting when I got home this morning, expressing love for all the victims. Shockingly, one of my fans on my author page on facebook responded to that tweet when it was posted there. She says here that she and her husband were in the theater when the shooting started. They ran like hell to get away.
That struck me hard. We live in this huge world, but the connections between us are so startlingly close. Here I am, a guy trying to entertain with his words on his couch in central Kentucky, and I almost lost someone that supported me. Someone I didn't know but was there as a part of my life anyway. It's weird and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. One single degree of separation from this tragedy.
I found myself feeling genuine relief that the lady in question and her husband made it out okay. She's a reader--describing herself as a 'loyal reader'--but before today she was a profile on a page. A number in my 'like' column. Now she's someone that I know, a person whose potential and impact on the people around her, including myself, could have been gone in a blink.
Is there a point to this? I don't know. I'm feeling more grief for an event outside my own personal sphere of experience than I have at any point since 9/11. I want to do something for those people, and for Jaqueline Lader, the fan herself. I wish I could help. Even if just to give comfort to the injured, to the families of the slain. Maybe it's selfish because I think it would make me feel better, but I also deeply want every one of them to know that I care. We care.
Human beings let unimportant things get between us too often. I'm as guilty of it as anyone. In the wake of tragedy it's vital that we remember that we're all human. I don't know what drove the killer to act as he did, and I'm sure the media will have theory after theory and people all over will place blame on whatever issue is their pet peeve.
I don't want to do that. I don't care what made him do it, and I don't care what happens to him now other than hoping justice is served. I care that all too often we see awful things happen and get sucked into argument and finger-pointing. We forget the real human impact of the event itself. My hope is to avoid that. It may be a silly dream, but I want to see sympathy and love for all those affected to a degree that no one can imagine.
Surely, if one man can cause so much pain, ten thousand--ten million--of us can at least begin to heal it.