Thursday, August 8, 2013

Three Hours Later

Last weekend we took a brief sojourn home to visit family for my birthday. Just making it out the door was a miracle in and of itself. I was in a hormonal bitchy state that made Linda Blair look proper. Somehow my husband endured the six hour drive without leaving me by the side of the road in utter desperation. Yes, I was that bad. Once we got there the distraction of family and festivities transformed my state of mind tremendously. Thankfully we went on to have a pretty good weekend. But something happened on Saturday that shook me to the core.

Of course I didn't find out about it until Sunday. With a steaming mug of coffee in one hand and the grip of cold fear squeezing my heart I poured over the newspaper headlines. The exact spot we traversed on the Venice Beach boardwalk at 3pm was the site of a random act of terror at 6pm. A person purposely drove down the pedestrian-only Ocean Front Walk crowded with throngs of tourists at a speed upward of 35mph. Sixteen people were injured and one killed as the car plowed through street vendors and human bodies alike. 

These crimes against the innocent masses seem to be gaining immense popularity. This is the closest I've personally come to experiencing one. I see them on the news every few days. There are no words to express the heartbreak that devastates so many in the wake of these stupid and senseless tragedies. But viewing a television screen from the safety of my living room and knowing three hours is all that stood between me and...the end of me. Well, it changed me. 

I spent a significant amount of time digesting this experience. After the fear came gratitude, then irritation at myself. I've been wasting the precious gift of my life on the hurt of the past! The dear woman who died was on her honeymoon. She will never get the chance to walk in the sunshine again, cry or complain when things don't go right, make mistakes or brighten someone's day with a smile or kind word. A life she was just embarking on with her husband was snatched away needlessly from both of them. So in the spirit of honoring such a pointless loss I put my anger and bitterness on the shelf for a while. I am sure they will find me again one day. But just for right now I will rejoice that life is still mine to live. For I really don't know how much more time I have to squander such a precious gift.

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