“Two of the deadliest shootings in modern American history have happened in the last 35 days.”
This is the headline from CNN that glares at me on Monday morning as I pull up a new tab on my internet browser. I am confronted by a bright red ribbon that has appeared far too often at the top of the page. The banner has been filled with the words “mass shooting” again. Only the names of the places have changed. A music festival in Las Vegas. A Walmart in suburban Colorado. A First Baptist Church in Texas.
And still they continue. Slideshows emerge with pictures gleaned from Facebook or from the loved ones of the departed. A media parade of faces goes by with each click. Smiles shine brightly out from faces that are ignorant to the fact that their days were numbered.
But how could they have known?
The terror behind the attacks, the sneaking insidiousness of it all, is that there is never a way to see it coming. We go about our lives, booking tickets for a concert with friends, dropping in at the grocery store to pick up one last item for dinner, or walking into a house of worship on a Sunday morning. We live, and in living we seem to be continually placing ourselves in unwitting danger of dying.
The fear could choke us. It could make us hide under the covers, bolt the doors, refuse to ever allow our children near a movie theater, a schoolhouse or a bike path. We can bury our heads in the sand all we want, all we can, and yet we, as members of a human family that is 7.8 billion members strong, will still become victims of the barrage of violence that is firing at our country.
Here I sit, on a college campus far away from Sutherland Springs, Texas, and I am weeping as I watch a mother’s face flash across my screen. Crystal Holcombe, mother of five with one on the way, who made bake-sale brownies and sang her children to sleep, gone. I am hurting as I read the grief of loved ones splayed across every page, bleeding sincerity and desperation and a hint of, “Why us? We were only living our lives. Why?” I feel an ache that just won’t seem to fade as I mark the calendar since the days of the last shooting and find that I can span the gaps on the page with only a few lines. I am traumatized, and I am hundreds of miles away.
The fear I feel is right here. The fear presses in on me and makes me feel as though it is futile to make plans, to save to travel to Europe, to go with my roommate to Walmart or to a concert or to even go to church. And yet, I know one thing.
To hide is to surrender. To stop living is to further the count of the dead. It is to allow them, the shooters or the terrorists, to make out the 58 dead in Vegas, the 26 in Texas, the three in Colorado, as nothing more than numbers. We know differently. They are our mothers, fathers, sisters, neighbors, co-workers, friends, boyfriends, grandmothers, pastors, leaders — they are ours, and we will never forget. We will continue to live to fight this evil.
We the people do not cower to fear. We stand in remembrance of those who were living— going to concerts, laughing with friends, shopping for loved ones, worshipping their God — and we will not forget.
Abby Thatcher, Kaysville, is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho.