Listen To Article
We are the remnants of violence. We are the survivors. It’s the years after the horror of the gunshot that people don’t talk about. Those of us who remain, is it a blessing or a curse that we are still here? We are the ones who lived. We are the resilient. And we are the traumatized who are haunted by the horror in the middle of the night. Sometimes our very DNA is made of the DNA of the one who committed these crimes. Try living with that for a few years. It will screw with your understanding of yourself, the kind and compassionate self you are. And over and over you will ask “But that was my family member. How can it be?”
We are the ones whose father didn’t shoot us. We are the ones who go to our school desks and look over our shoulder to see the empty seats where our best friend used to sit. We are the ones who see the guns in our grandpa’s garage and know what happened to our Uncle when he could know longer bear the burdens of life. We are the parents who are still figuring out a way to live with the harsh reality that our child was the active shooter and we will carry this burden to our dying day. We will remind ourselves everyday as we clutch our rosary and pray God, help me to bear this burden again today. We are the doctors who receive wounded humans and open T-shirts to find another person taken by a gun. We are the girlfriends and children who sat next to our boyfriend, and dad, as a officer shot him to death in the car. We are the ones who go to our sanctuary of solace and remember what it was like to be filled with joy at one moment and to hear the shots of horror the next moment. Does a sanctuary remain a sanctuary if murder was committed in that space?
We are the survivors of gun violence. We are the ones who are here. Is that a blessing or a curse?
March 23rd is a day of memorial observance in my family. Thirty-two years ago my dad and my mother were in the middle of a separation that my dad could not bear. I was a chubby nine-month year old baby and was tucked away in the most amazing loving care of my grandma at my grandparent’s house. My mom was moving out and my dad was having a hard time with the weight of this rift. The gun they had, the one they had bought to protect themselves (from what exactly were they protecting themselves from, I’m not sure) was the same gun that turned against them. On March 23rd, 2018 I tweeted this:
The response was generous and I realized I have tapped into a stream of stories that more of us face than many of us hear. For many of us we watch the horrific day of gun violence on repeat on 24 hour news television. We are in shock and the story is replayed until the next story comes on and we move on from it muttering Oh how horrible. Except those of us who don’t have the option of moving on and the 24 hour news cycle is the story that is on a loop of repeat in our lives. We are the ones who don’t get to change the channel. We are the survivors. Is that a blessing or a curse?
Give me Good Friday. Give me the horror of this day because I need a God who knows what it’s like to have a child murdered. Give me the God who tears his shirt off to find his child murdered by his people. Give me the God who knows what it’s like to lose a son. Give me the savior whose body bears the wounds of violence. Give me the mother of Jesus who weeps at her son’s feet with murdered dreams of who he might be. That’s the God who knows me. That’s the God I know who won’t forsake me. Don’t rush to Easter, sit with the survivors of gun violence on Good Friday. There’s nothing you can say that can take away the pain, our bodies carry the memories. Thankfully I feel a little less alone knowing that Jesus has the same marks on his body. We aren’t alone. Doctors, students, mothers, and the children left behind. We are here. We are the survivors. We are the ones who will teach you how to rise again. But first, just sit with us in the pain. Only the crucified God can bring new life to what is dead.