I can’t stop thinking about the Colorado movie theater shooting. Over the last few days, it has driven me to tears on several occasions. Tears for the victims. Tears for their families. Tears of gratitude for the life and loves I have. Tears of fear, driven by the reminder that everything you love can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
I can’t bring myself to pass by an article on the attack without reading it or change the news if it comes on my screen. I feel like I owe it to the victims to know all of their names, all of their backstories. To disregard or ignore it because it upsets me feels utterly selfish and disrespectful.
They can’t ignore what happened.
It’s easy to move your way from one day into the next, without ever pausing to consider the decisions you made that led you there. I’m certainly not saying we should live our lives in fear; hermits who never leave our homes. But the minute details of their day led them to that particular showing of the Dark Knight, in that particular theater, at that particular time. Showing up a few minutes earlier or later than other patrons led them to choose the particular seat they chose, which was essentially the arbitrary deciding factor on whether or not they lived or died.
I am especially struck by the story of Jessica Ghawi , who worked under the last name Redfield, an aspiring sports journalist who died that night. Not to belittle anyone else’s tragedy. I’m sure that it is because Jessica and I could be interchangeable. We are close in age, with the same college degrees and, according to her Twitter account, the same stubbornness and sarcasm. She called herself a “grammar snob” which can certainly be used to describe me. Jessica spent the afternoon tweeting a friend, bugging him to accompany her to the movie showing that night. The friend had several reasons why he didn’t want to go, including that they both had to work the next day and would be tired in the morning. But Jessica pressed and joked, eventually convincing him to go with her. She tweeted, “Of course we’re seeing Dark Knight. Redheaded Texan spitfire, people should never argue with me. Maybe I should get in on those NHL talks…” Her last tweet was: MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES.
That very simple tweet is devastating to me. Here was a beautiful, feisty, seemingly happy 20-something, painfully unaware of the fate that would end her life in under an hour. How many times have you been sitting in a theater, before the previews started, updating your Facebook status, replying to emails, etc? Just sitting and waiting and watching…
In June, she narrowly escaped a shooting in a Toronto mall. In her last blog post, she wrote about the experience, noting
“I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm’s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.”
“I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.”
Every second of every day is a gift. I will try to live it as such. Really try.
So should you.
In a NyQuil induced state last night (Who gets sick in July? Seriously!), I asked Jason the following questions about butterflies:
Do you think their wings get tired when they fly too much?
Do they have lungs?
One of my (many) favorite things about our relationship is that when I ask The Husband any series of absurd questions, regardless of my over the counter medication intake, he never pauses and answers them to the best of his knowledge. He never questions why I am questioning anything. He doesn’t (usually) ask what train of thought led me to where we ended up, or why I thought I should share it out loud with him. We’re married. We’re one cohesive unit. If something is on my mind, then surely it is weighing on his, too
I tell myself.
Conversations like this are more the norm than not. (This is not verbatim, but it’s how I remember it. Mostly. Jason, you can feel free to jump in here to correct anything.)
Heather: Do butterfly wings get tired if they fly too much?
Jason: Do your lungs get tired when you breathe too much? No. It’s just what they’re supposed to do. Their wings are supposed to do that.
Heather: Yes, when I’m sick they do. Also, my legs are supposed to walk me but if I walk too much then, yes, they get tired.
Heather: Ok, what? Ok their wings get tired?
Heather: Jase, wake up. I have another question about butterflies. Jason? Jason?
Heather: Do butterflies have lungs?
Jason: Yeah, I think. Probably. It’s a living thing. Every living thing has lungs, I think. Or gils.
Heather: I don’t think they do. I don’t think they have lungs like a human. Or like dogs.
Jason: ::Tries to roll me over and trick me into going to sleep by cuddling with me. After five years, he should have known that wouldn’t work.::
Heather: Do butterflies have organs like humans? Like, do they have a liver?
Jason: I don’t think so.
Heather: Do they have kidneys? Do butterflies have a pancreas?
Jason: You’re naming all useless organs.
Heather: What does that mean? Useless?
Jason: That humans could live without them, so why would butterflies need them?
Heather: But do they have them? I don’t think they do. Jase, are you awake? Jason? I don’t think butterflies have the same stuff inside them as people or animals. I don’t think they have lungs, even though they’re alive and have to fly fast. And their wings probably get tired so they need to rest and regain their strength, but not catch their breath because I don’t think they have lungs. Jase?
At this point, I let it go and decided to take advantage of the only good part of being sick – the peaceful, drug induced sleep.
So, for you folks wondering at home, I did some research. Butterflies do NOT have lungs. Insects breathe through a simple, passive respiration. What does that mean, you ask? Well, let me enlighten you.
Butterflies have series of small pores on either side of the abdomen, called spiracles, that are used to draw in oxygen. Inside, a series of tracheal tubes channel the air to different parts of the body.
Also, more great news. Butterflies have TWO hearts. No kidneys or livers.
That information comes from NatureMuseum.org and everyone knows that if something is “.org” then it’s legit.
So, there’s your Reading Rainbow moment of the day. You’re welcome.
Ps- Guys, I’m still siiiiiiick.
A few nights ago, we were walking the dogs, when Bumble walked up to an adorable little boy with glasses and a mop of curly hair on his head. The boy reminded me of Manny from Modern Family. You could tell he was anxious about the pup being next to him, but he was very polite as he patted Bumble on the head and smiled. As he walked away, he told us to have a nice evening. Naturally, his politeness mixed with his nerdy exterior made me want to hug him, squish his little cheeks and make him my new little pal. But The Husband always reminds me that I can’t just walk around, squishing other people’s children, so we continued on our way.
Last night, around 7:30, there was a knock on the door. It was Eldon (I just named the little boy Eldon. He looks like an Eldon.) He informed Jay that he was 12 years old and inquired as to whether or not we had any children, because he was looking for some friends to play with. Unfortunately, Jay had to let him down easy because, alas, no children can yet be found in our humble abode.
I was in awe of his brazenness, his ability to walk up to a stranger’s door (all potential bad-things-that-could-happen aside), looking for kids to play with. I was also jealous that it is totally acceptable for a kid to knock on a door, looking to make a friend. That got me thinking of other things that are totally acceptable for a child to do but completely frowned upon if an adult performs the same act.
1) Asking people to be their friend. (See above)
2) Wearing costumes, masks and other assorted props into stores and restaurants. I was once babysitting an adorable five-year-old. As we were getting out of my car to make our daily trip into Target, he told me to hold on a second. He then put on a Batman mask and cape, looked at me and just nodded. We walked into the store, with him in superhero attire. All the adults smiled and laughed at him. I kept thinking that if I were the one in the mask, security would be immediately called.
3) Be a picky eater. I’m notoriously picky. I don’t eat seafood, I’m not crazy about red meat and there aren’t many vegetables outside of lettuce that I choose to chow down on. If a kid refuses the peas and pork chops and opts for more mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets, it’s usually accepted by adults that that’s just the way it is. When I don’t gobble up the lobster or filet, I am reprimanded and immediately interrogated. There’s no political stance I’m taking. No allergies. I just don’t like it. Now pass me the bread and worry about your own plate!
4) Get paid for losing teeth. If an adult loses a tooth, not only are you judged by other adults, but then you have to pay someone else to fix it.
5) Stating the obvious. I was a pre-k teacher for a few years. During this time, I realized that children under ten haven’t yet learned how to sugar coat things. So, if a little kids tells you that you look pretty, then you are definitely having a good hair day. On the flip side, if a little kid asks you why you are fat, then you should probably lay off the cookies. Other gems include “Why does your face look like that?” “Why is that man so short?” “You have a big, red dot on your nose.” “You smell bad.” (A cute aside – When Jason and I first started dating, we worked together and kept it quiet. Nobody knew. One day, one of my students came up to me and said I smelled weird. I asked what I smelled like and he said “Hmm .. you smell like cookies .. and “in love”. It’s because of Mr. Jason, huh?”)
6) Fall asleep anywhere. If you see a little kid sleeping on a park bench, you can’t help but smile and think about how precious it is. His playing must have really worn him out! If you see an adult sleeping on a park bench, you think that hobo should really take a shower and get a job.
7) Go trick-or-treating. There’s one special night a year where all a child has to do is wear something awesome, knock on a door and demand a treat. Sometimes, “shy” kids don’t even have to say ANYTHING and Kit-Kats and Twix bars magically end up in their bag. Why can’t adults go trick or treating? Sure, I CAN buy my own candy, but if you’re giving it out for free, why can’t I have some?
8) Talk to themselves and imaginary friends. I don’t think this one needs any commentary.
9) Go to bed early. Why is there such a stigma on adults who go to bed early? I’m always embarrassed to admit when I go to bed before 10:00 (which is every weeknight). What do children do that makes them so tired that it justifies an 8:00 bedtime without judgment? Yeah, your day of waking up at your own leisure, watching Good Luck Charlie, swinging and eating goldfish crackers is real tough. Get back to me when an alarm disrupts your sleep at 5:30 am, followed by a traffic-filled morning commute, 8+ hours of work, a traffic-jammed afternoon commute, pet-care, cleaning, dinner-making, exercising and DVR watching (there is a lot of pressure to stay up to date on shows without them being ruined by spoilers or recaps)
10) Have someone clean for them, cook for them, bathe them and basically cater to their every whim and fancy. Unless your last name is Hilton or Kardashian, you probably have to wash your own dirty socks (and walk down to your dirty, old basement to do it!) and clean the watered-down ketchup out of the sink yourself.
These reasons, along with a thousand others (including the obvious of summer vacations and no employment obligations) are why I’m super jealous of kids. Sure, I can buy my own toys, whenever I want. But then I’m the one who has to deal with ripping apart the 14 layers of plastic to get to it.
What else can you add to my awesome list?