A friend was confiding in me about a situation in her life that deeply upsets her. She is a poet — a genius of a poet — so, while I tried to be a good listener and not jump in with personal advice, I asked her if she’s tried writing about it. “Not yet,” she said, “but maybe I should.”
I’ve been avoiding writing about something that deeply upsets me. So here it is.
I know I’m not alone in feeling dismayed — horrified, traumatized, gutted — by the gun violence we’ve witnessed this summer. Two weeks ago, the violence reached into our suburban community, when four teenagers at a Mukilteo party were shot, and three of them instantly killed. Like the other kids, the shooter was a graduate of our local high school, where my daughters attended, and attend. The girl, a nursing student, the former girlfriend of the shooter, had been a choir student, like my daughters. I’m not sure I know how to write about this…what the parents of these children are going through is a nightmare too great to even attempt to imagine.
The novelist Henry James said that there are three things that are important in life. “The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
When I hear of someone responding to a shooting by joining the NRA, when I hear about the makers of the AR-15 used in this crime donating money to NRA lobbyists, I worry about us and our future. I worry myself sick about my daughters and their friends. I try to imagine what I can do.
I can be kind. And I can write.