Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I live in a community. I live in a townhouse surrounded by families with small children. These small children, grade school age see me every morning, day and night. Since I work from home, I am everywhere all the time. I am the middle aged woman who keeps watch over the extended yard that reaches so many doors in our community. I am the one who is sitting out in the evening watching the children play. I am the one they look to for guidance about rules of fair play and decorum. I am there. I feel their need, their want to be seen, and their desire to entertain and keep my attention. I feel these little ones to my bone. They have worked hard to earn my trust and respect. They address me as Miss Kellie. They have a million questions about school, friends, families, children, adults, and life in general and more often than that, the very specific. These children are my little friends; actually, they are my littlest of friends. I call them friends because they talk to me without judgment, or condemnation, or indifference, which I think is often much worse. In the evening when they have grown tired of playing they come to me and sit or stand near my tiny outdoor table and talk. Not one of them looks anything like me, but we don’t notice, except to ask about each other in fascination. They are careful to be respectful at all times. They try and watch their grammar, which I occasionally correct, but as a method of teaching and not to condescend. I think they are gorgeous. I hear them and what they have to say and I am riveted to their mind set, their opinions are articulated in a way that captures my heart. They know I adore them. It is in the way I look at them, full in their tiny faces, eyes held in interest and kindness. We have had a couple of odd happenings here at townhouse land, but nothing as violent as what happened last night. There are apartments across the very busy street we live on. These apartments are known to carry certain elements of danger. We are all advised to stay from them, and we do. Last evening my young ones were once again gathered at my table regaling me tales with the horrors of dodge ball. One by one they got called in by their parents in order to get ready for bed. The sun had fallen far behind the trees and the sky was dark. My favorite little friend is a writer and a good one at that. She is expressive and artful with her words. I see that we are kindred spirits and our souls connect. She offers up her writings to me to critique, but I can’t say anything bad about any of them. I love the way she writes, and see her one day becoming prolific and important. I gathered my coffee cup and headed in for the night. The yard, the area that borders our doors grew quiet as the families began tucking in the little ones. Peace had descended over our little community. Christy, my oldest child, and I were watching television. Mike had gone to bed, exhausted from work. Our patio door remained open to allow the breeze to waft into our living room and cool the air. Christy had gone upstairs for moment and I was sitting there when I heard something outside. I muted the television as I do every time I think I hear something and there it was the sound I knew and feared. Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, POP! A man yelled, “Call an ambulance!” Gunfire had found our little community. I hurriedly called 911 and reported what I had heard, but I saw nothing. The sounds came from up on the hill in the parking lot, a place I could not see from my windows. Mike came downstairs and closed and locked the patio door. I had walked outside to see what was going on. Mike called to me in a loud whisper, “Baby, get back in the house.” My neighbor, a young mother of two was coming home from work. Me, standing in my pajama pants, she asked, “Did I scare you?” I look at her and said, “No, there were gun shots. The police are on their way.” She and I stood for moment when a man screamed, “Get back in the house! Get back in the house!” My neighbor and I scurried into our doors. People closed doors and locked them, pulled blinds, we hid away, waiting for the trauma to exit. I went upstairs to investigate from the window on the second floor. Christy chided me for being so “nosy” and laughed, “You are not Angela Lansbury, you are not going to solve this.” For a moment we forgot about the danger of the situation and just laughed. I looked out my window to the windows of my small friends. Their lights were out and I prayed they didn’t hear what we had heard. I prayed they got to keep their innocence a little longer. I found out today a man was shot 3 times. He had been found at the other end of the community and had survived. I don’t know anything else about the shooting that occurred so close to my front door. I really don’t want to know the details right now. I am leaning away from knowing too much and having the fear grow inside me. This evening my little friends were back out playing. They seem to be called in earlier tonight. They were playing soccer, running around each other, laughing and horsing around. All their small children noises were echoing where gun shots had just ringed out hours earlier. I wondered if they knew about the incident. I wondered if they knew and were frightened. I’m frightened. I scared for friends who still lead with their tiny hearts, who think why not instead of asking why. My hope for tonight for them was that innocence won out today. We live in extraordinary times, and not all of this is a good thing. The world has grown dark and violent for many. I see on the news nightly the body count due to the many, many murders in our area. The weapons of choice are guns, lots and lots of guns. Today I posted the need for responsible gun owners to stand up and speak out on gun violence. It’s time for the NRA and its members to talk, and keep talking about how we are going to fix this mess. They have the large looming lobby, worth millions of dollars and several members of Congress. They need to come up with information on how to help. As experts in the area of this kind of weaponry it is their obligation. I literally have to say do it for the children, for my children that I adore so much, having spent so much time. This needs a solution before another stray bullet ends the life of a child or a middle aged story teller.