58 is a number I will not forget. Under normal circumstances it is just a number but not today. Today as I write, tears splash on to the page and in truth, I cannot get the number 58 out of my mind. Numbers are not necessarily positive or negative, but today, the number 58 is heartbreaking, ugly and bad. Today, that number is a painful reminder that 58 beautiful souls lost their lives in a senseless act of violence.
I have spent the past couple of days trying to wrap my head around the tragic massacre in Las Vegas. I have tried to make sense of it and like most, I keep asking WHY. Sadly, there are no answers and it feels impossible to understand or make sense out of this senseless tragedy. Honestly, I am sad, angry, afraid, horrified and I am grieving yet again for people I have never met.
So, what’s next? We can all feel sad and quite honestly, pissed off. Every one of us can cry, scream and watch endless hours of coverage on the news. We can talk about it and like most tragedies that steals our innocence, we can try to manage the fear that has once again crept into our lives. We can and will grieve and hearts will hurt, but ultimately life will go on.
That is how it works. Tragedy strikes, people die, people are injured and lives are changed forever but life still goes on. Consequently, that is what I sometimes struggle with the most. Every time a horrific event rips through lives, we feel shock, fear, anger, sadness and we mourn even when the tragedy is hundreds of miles away. Why? We hurt and grieve because we are human beings and most human beings feel heartbreak and pain.
Compassion and empathy weave a common thread between each of us creating a bond shadowed by pain and loss. Fear and grief rise out of the ashes every time innocent people lose their lives and regardless of the how or why, it hurts. But, life still goes on and frankly, it has to. If we do not keep moving and living our lives, evil wins.
In truth, I sometimes struggle with how quickly life goes on after a loss. There are times when I don’t want it to feel quite so simple or easy. In the end, it is not easy. We just learn to stuff our grief and pain. Yes, we are traumatized and the events in Las Vegas this week have left our nation reeling yet again. Ten minutes of violence quickly shattered our trust and once again left our society feeling vulnerable and afraid to step outside the safety of our homes and beyond our front doors. Yet, as each day drifts by and we are distanced from the tragedy in Las Vegas through miles and time, life slowly returns to normal.
I know that life must go on and I know that we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I get it. However, I don’t want to forget. I need to grieve and I need to let my heart hurt for a while. We need to remember that this could have happened to any one of us. I have been to so many concerts and like the 22,000 people who attended the Route 91 Harvest music festival, I have left my home, kissed my family goodbye and headed out the door. I have been one of the thousands attending concerts with my husband, my kids and friends dancing and laughing without a care in the world.
It could have been my husband, my daughter or my best friend that was lying in a pool of blood in the parking lot, grass or on the floor. It could have been you or it could have been me. Yes, life goes on but I don’t want to forget the 58 people who lost their lives doing something they loved and doing those things that we all love and want to do. I don’t want to forget the almost 500 people who were injured from gunfire or trying to escape the horrors of Sunday night. I don’t want to forget the people who must now plan funerals, bury loved ones and live life with a big gaping hole in their broken hearts.
What I want to do is to remember. We need to stand united and remember the 58 people who lost their lives a few short days ago.
These beautiful souls were teachers, insurance agents, office managers, financial advisors, college kids, make-up artists, soldiers, fishermen, nurses, cheerleaders, secretaries, attorneys, mechanics, receptionists, plumbers, daycare providers, home builders, Disney employees, coaches, golfers, servers, cooks, recruiters, musicians and security guards.
They were sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, fiancée’s, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, colleagues, co-workers and friends. They were one of us and sadly, in a matter of minutes and without warning, their lives violently came to an end.
Grieving is important and while life will go on and invariably it should, there are things that we can do to ease the pain and to honor those that fell victim to hatred and violence. There are things that each and every one of us can do to honor those that died, were injured or lost their loved ones.
- We can remember. Time and distance will create an emotional wall that allows some of the trauma and grief to fade. That is okay but that doesn’t mean we will forget nor do we need to.
- Allow yourself to feel and to grieve. Grief is normal and it is important that you face your grief versus ignore it. It is critical that you process all of the feelings that have erupted out of any terrible tragedy and loss. There are action steps one can take to move beyond grief and heal a broken heart.
- Face your fears. While it is normal to feel vulnerable and afraid following tragedies it is important to live your life and continue to do the things you enjoy. If we stop doing the things we love, evil wins.
- Be a good person. Once the story broke late Sunday night I couldn’t sleep and I wanted to do something to help. While distance may make it difficult to physically show up and help during times of tragedy, there are many things that people can do to help others in need. If you want to help, donate blood, donate money, clothing or toiletries. Big or small, giving can make a huge difference when tragedy strikes.
- Be kind. We cannot let evil and hatred win. Pay it forward. Love others and always be kind. It is easy to do. Smile. Say hello. Pay for someone’s coffee. Give up your seat on an airplane so that a couple can sit together. Hug someone. Volunteer. Listen. Remember, kindness costs nothing but can change lives.
- Stop judging others. It is impossible to know what another is going through without first walking in their shoes. Be compassionate and empathetic versus judgmental. There will come a time when you will need others to be compassionate and empathetic with you. I cannot completely comprehend or know what anyone directly impacted by last Sunday’s events might be feeling, but I can be compassionate and empathetic.
- Life is short. There are no guarantees. Take nothing for granted and especially the people you love. Embrace every moment you are blessed to live and remember there is always something to be grateful for.
- Never stop loving. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is evil but in the end, love always wins. I have seen countless examples of love every time tragedy strikes. Acts of selfless heroism showed up in the face of horror this week. Tragedy brings out the best in people and regardless of age, gender, politics or race, human beings can join together. Tragedy unites people and most will do whatever it takes to help one another. That is love. Period.
Images from Las Vegas continue to haunt my mind but just like any other tragedy, the evidence of horror and heartbreak will fade over time. Pictures of scattered clothing, crushed glasses, water bottles, cowboy hats, spilled food, purses and blood stains captured the aftermath of what was once a fun night of music at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The images will slowly fade but the memory of this tragedy and all that was lost will linger in the hearts of many for a very long time.
58. It is a number I will not forget. I didn’t know any of you, but I am mourning each of you and my heart is broken as I struggle to move beyond this senseless loss. As personal stories emerge of who you were as individuals I am reminded of how precious life is and most importantly that each one of your lives mattered. Each one of you had a life, hopes, dreams and loved ones who must now live life without you. You were one of us.
We need to remember, we need to be their voice and we need to be courageous. We CAN make a difference. Live each and every day with love in your heart, be a good person and be kind to one another. Always.
In Peace and With Love,