Thursday, September 18, 2008

She was coming home to her kids.

Tonight after band practice, around ten-thirty, I was in the bathroom when I heard three shots. When my wife and I left the house to find out what was going on we found that our neighbor across the street had been shot. I understand that her chances of survival are good. My best wishes go out to her and her family.

To the best of my knowledge she had absolutely nothing to do with the situation last night.

The details are none of my business and none of yours but she's someone who had at one point hit the kind of place in life that you don't come back from.

She came back. I always had the impression that she did it because she had a kid. And tonight she was coming home from work to her family and someone shot her.

The information I received was random; one person said it was a drive-by, someone else said it was someone at the memorial that's been put up for one of the shooters from last night.

Everything I know tells me that it happened for the sake of shooting; that someone was overcome with grief or rage or stupidity or self-importance or some ungodly emotional cocktail and decided that shooting someone at random was the thing to do. I wouldn't mind being wrong about this.

And now my wife, bless her heart, asked me to put a futon over the window by our bed. Because I sleep next to the window and, again, bless her heart, she cares whether I live or die. It's good to have someone who cares about that.

Right now I care about my neighbor from across the street, with whom I've had a bit of friction and a few friendly hellos. Someone I hardly know. Someone I just saw lying on the sidewalk between her car and her front door. And I care about her kids; when I asked if there was any way I could help with them the police were very kind. The officer I spoke to clearly understood how it felt to want to do the right thing and how sometimes standing back is the right thing. And he understood how that hurts.

A couple of reporters were talking to me this afternoon and they were clearly angling for something bad to say about the police. I can understand this; I grew up in a community with a notoriously racist and corrupt police force and I can clearly see the racist side of law enforcement in America.

But here and now the police have been responsible. Prompt. Courteous. And compassionate.

You know what's kind of fun? Thanking a cop and meaning it. It seems to take them by surprise. And when someone you've never met in your life is obviously despondent and they cling to you and you hold them and they calm down? That's good too. Introducing yourself to neighbors for the first time and speaking in true camaraderie. That's good too.

I need more of these things in my life. But I don't need to have someone shot in order to get them.

No comments: