Less than 5 hours ago, sirens roared down my street. My husband and I were finishing dinner, my stepdaughters had already headed upstairs to do homework. We watched Ernie,our dog, leap up and run to the front door as he always does when he hears sirens. We didn't give it any more thought.
Then, my stepson called from work a few blocks away. "Somebody's running around with a gun!" My husband asked for clarification (he's a skeptic and my stepson has been known to exaggerate). "Well, that's what I heard," he said. My husband told him to be careful, hung up the phone and began to rinse the dishes. It was a normal night. Boring. We were almost to the end of what had seemed like a long week. It was about to get a hell of a lot longer.
We heard more sirens, so I checked on-line. The headlines were startling. "Shots Fired in Downtown Kirkwood." Uh oh. This is Mayberry. This is my home. We flipped on the TV. By now, you've probably heard the news. It's been on MSNBC, CNN, and all the other shows. It's the kind of story I used to hear about, shake my head, and think, when can we get rid of the guns. But, it always seemed so far away.
This is my town. I know Mayor Swoboda (as I write this, he's in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head.) He was at a 2000 election night party at my house, attending with a friend who is on the city council. I supported Connie Karr in her previous campaigns. I was going to vote for her for mayor in April. She died tonight. I had a yard sign for Mike Lynch when he first ran for city council a few years ago. He died too.
Two police officers died. I don't know their names yet, but I'm sure I've run into them, talked to them. Maybe when we had a fire in my driveway. Or at the farmer's market. Or maybe they stopped one of my sons for speeding. And gave a warning rather than a ticket. We're a town of friendly faces. Just last week, when we had 8 inches of snow, a stranger stopped and plowed out my driveway when he saw me outside with the snowshovel.
And a grenade just landed in the heart of my home.
I was at City Hall on Tuesday to vote in the primary. 5 people died there tonight from gunshot wounds.
I really don't know what to say. If you're a person who prays, I'd ask you to lift up my town.
Hug your families and friends. Look around and relish getting another day. Laugh. Breathe.
And maybe think of ways we can reduce violence. And ask yourself if we really need such easy access to guns.