Memories in the Face of Tragedy


Like all of us today, hearts are broken for those lost in Las Vegas. I would like to share a little known story about an event that occurred in my life as a little child in Indiana. I do so because I have walked this walk and always feel a kinship, in a horrific way, for lives lost. This picture is from an explosion I witnessed from the first row of the Holiday On Ice with my Dad and pregnant Stepmother. For some reason, our lives were spared, but everyone surrounding us died. Seventy-four people were killed and hundreds injured. I was carried out of the event drenched in blood. The ice was covered in blood. Body parts were everywhere. I can recall my accounts of the event, that "there were dollies flying through the air." I remember vividly, daily. The PTSD has shaped who I am today. I cannot tolerate noises, fireworks, or thunder. I cannot tolerate vomiting as I saw it too much. This all brings up too many difficult memories in my life. I relive it constantly.

There is more to this story but I felt compelled to share it. For those of us who live through a horrific experience such as this, it becomes part of who we are, with memories that never go away. Ever. Our experience is the same whether it is an organic explosion (my experience), a purposeful explosion, a shooting, or a truck that runs over innocent pedestrians. It is carnage and blood and death. It does not look or feel different just because the origin is different. Either way, we have to endure the experience and the visual of what we saw our entire lives. What I saw never leaves me. What the survivors saw this weekend will never leave them. Investigations must occur in every scenario, and will. For now and for the next few weeks, it is important to give these people the respect and love to allow them to physically and emotionally heal. To bury family members. To come through surgeries. To receive grief counseling. To hold onto each other.

The why to this all will become clear, but for now, these poor survivors and family members need the support and quiet and calm. Inside their souls, is loss and fear and memories that will forever shape them, and it will not be easy. They will tell us what they need and then we can support them. We cannot do this for them, nor should we.

Offering so much love during this time.