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The Colorado shooting was on my mind all day, this strange limbo of wanting to talk about it and not wanting to hear any of the details, so the few things I knew kept rolling around in my head, growing like a tumbleweed as I picked up random bits of passing conversation throughout the day.  I wanted to write about it, mostly just to get it out of my head, but I had nothing to say.  I mean, truly, there is nothing intelligible we can say in the face of an act like this.  The only response to this kind of grief is low moans, wordless sounds.

I was at the Wolvog’s camp when my best friend emailed me about a murder — completely unrelated — that occurred in our town seventeen years ago.  The Colorado shooting fell adjacent to the anniversary of the murder, which took the lives of two of our friends.  I still remember exactly where I was when I found out about it.  It was the summer between my junior and senior year of college, and my boyfriend and I had gone out to coffee with another couple.  We all ended up back at my parent’s house with the intention of going downstairs into the basement to watch a movie.  But my mother stopped my boyfriend and me in the hallway between the living room and kitchen, sending our friends downstairs, and she told me about the murder, which had taken place while I was drinking an iced mocha.  And I remember thinking what a bizarre world this was where I was drinking an iced mocha and this old friend was dead.

I still don’t know what to say.  I didn’t know what to say then, and I certainly don’t know what you say about murder now.  It feels like as I age, I have fewer and fewer words at my disposal, as if we’re born with millions of words which feel like they fit a multitude of situations, and as we age, handfuls get weeded out as our mind tells us that this doesn’t fit and that doesn’t fit.  Until we’re left with silence as a response to this level of violence.

Perhaps that is the only thing I can think to do: a moment of silence.


1 Stupid Stork { 07.20.12 at 4:26 pm }

Agreed. No words for it except maybe just repeating What?! over and over again.

2 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.20.12 at 6:22 pm }

I met with a partner from a class I’m taking. And instead of working our project, we simply sat in silence and stillness.

Some things are beyond words.

3 Io { 07.20.12 at 7:01 pm }

I always found the idea of keening to be my desired response.

4 Pie { 07.20.12 at 7:21 pm }

Gosh, i wonder if you are talking about the horrible murder that happened in my hometown…has it been 17 years? i remember where i was when i learned about it too. it is senseless. that is the only sense i can make of it. hugs.

5 Tiara { 07.20.12 at 8:19 pm }

So very well said

6 loribeth { 07.20.12 at 8:37 pm }

I hadn’t read many of the details, but this afternoon, I learned that one of the victims had been at the Toronto Eaton Centre last month & narrowly missed being shot there — gave me chills. 🙁

7 KeAnne { 07.20.12 at 9:17 pm }

I don’t mean to be callous, but while I’m saddened by this latest tragedy, I’m no longer shocked. My initial reaction was, “WTF is going on in this country???? Why is everything seemingly spiralling out of control?” I keep think of Yeats’ “The Second Coming” a lot lately and honestly, I’m scared for this country. Maybe I’m reacting too much to some things and not enough to others, but life seems weird lately. I don’t know, but everything seems crazy.

8 a { 07.20.12 at 10:10 pm }

There is nothing really to say – although plenty of people have been saying lots of nothing. There is no way to make sense of this – sometimes there are reasons behind things, but not for things like this.

9 Justine { 07.20.12 at 11:28 pm }

As much as we want silence, I think many people also feel the need to talk, even if there is nothing to say, or at least nothing *right* to say. It’s how some of us process grief. I think the language helps us feel like we can name tragedy, like we can contain it or control it. And yet, despite the noise, the cacophony of media coverage, there is silence in our hearts.

10 V { 07.20.12 at 11:53 pm }

I found this, and I keep wondering, how many more of these incidents does the US need before the gun laws are seriously looked at. Who needs this type of weapon, and why should anyone be able to amass 6000 rounds?

2012 July 12 people were killed and up to 50 injured at the premiere of the latest Batman film

2012: In April this year a lone gunman killed seven people and injured three at a small Korean Christian college in Oakland, California.

2011: On August 7th 2011 seven people were shot dead in Copley Township, Summit County, Ohio.

2009: The Geneva massacre occurred on the 10th of March 2009, 11 people, including the gunman

2007: The Westroads Mall shooting – Robert A. Hawkins killed himself after shooting nine other people a.

2007: The Virginia Tech massacre 32 killed and wounded 25 in April 16, .

2005: Red Lake Massacre – Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend before going on to kill nine people during a school spree killing.

2004: On December 8, Nathan Gale shot and killed four people and wounded seven after firing a total of fifteen shots.

2002: In October 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo killed 10 people in what would later be dubbed the Beltway sniper attacks.

1999: On April 20 1999, Columbine High School, Colorado, 12 students and one teacher dead.

1991:On October 16 George Hennard, an unemployed sea merchant, drove his truck through Luby’s cafeteria in Texas before shooting 23 customers and staff to death.

1990: Over two days in mid-June, James Edward Pough shot and killed 11 people, injuring six.

11 jjiraffe { 07.21.12 at 2:48 am }

I had some angry words to say about it. I’m angry that we allow these enormous magazines of bullets for use to civilians. The police responded in three minutes, but that gave the shooter enough time to fire off enough bullets in a movie theater to kill 12 people and wound 58. Anger is easier to feel right now that the grief, horror and terror which will set in eventually.

12 loribeth { 07.21.12 at 10:19 am }

I thought of you & this post as I read this:


13 Jay { 07.21.12 at 11:40 am }

He was a neuroscience grad student, a smart dude apparently. Reading his description, he sounded like the guys I work around at university. It does not sound like he had exhibited any history of mental illness, that is what scares the crap out of me. People can be so good at hiding these facets of themselves, I think I feel so very sorry for his family, They never saw this coming.

14 Battynurse { 07.21.12 at 12:25 pm }

Very well said.

15 Kimberly { 07.21.12 at 9:28 pm }

I’ve been sent into a shocked silence as well. I don’t have the words or thoughts to process this news and each time we hear about things like this, students opening fire on fellow students, bombings, and now this, I just can’t seem to find any meaning behind the act. I want to understand why this happened, but my mind just seems to shrug at me, lost for words, confused.

16 Kathy { 07.21.12 at 11:24 pm }

Truly senseless.

I will never understand why or how people are able to do this to other people.

What happens between the time a person is born an innocent, adorable harmless baby and the time the become old enough to do something like this, that makes them capable of doing something like this, harming other people, taking other people’s lives???

I don’t know.

But it makes me feel sad and angry. Especially because crazy people will find ways to do things like this (in light of or in spite of gun control/laws) and that is really scary.

Sending peace, love, light, thoughts and prayers to all those who have been touched and broken by this tragedy.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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