2:37 AM; September 20, 2018
I haven’t been sleeping well. Not since I booked Portugal. By day I am excited and mindful of my internal excitement of a new space, a new trail, a new breath in my senses, especially sight and sounds while I hike.
At night however, when I lie beside my beloved Ron, I think what in the hell am I am doing? Driving off alone to the Canyons is one thing, because I can, and often do, drive home early for want of him. But flying across the Atlantic without him? By day, fine. By night not so. But, I am an independent soul as well as a private person and going off is good for my spiritual calming. Ron knows this and so we have this thing where every once in a while, I “just go”. I always come back and it is always good that I have gone because the individual of me gets restored.
Then came the Middleton shooting this week.
Tracking the temps in Portugal, still in the 90s, I wanted to pick up a fresh hiking shirt. I had found one at the East Madison Marshalls and picked it up even though it was a bit too large. I knew I would have time on Wednesday to check Marshalls at Greenway Station and If they had a smaller size, fine, if not I would make do with the larger one. Sure enough Greenway had what I needed. I checked out, went to the car and then grabbed the bag that I had purchased previously. I went back in the store, walked up to the into the queue for the return. I was next in line so I was ready to walk to the front register. If you know the store you know at that position you are in clear view of the entry.
Just standing with my return bag, I saw a man run in and within a flash I heard shouting, “secure the doors, there is a shooting outside”. He shouted again. The lady behind me pushed through a rolling display and ran towards the back of the store. Another lady near by fumbled asking what to do. I suggested she go behind the half wall at the end of the register line which would be invisible to anyone approaching from the front. I went there myself half hidden and half peeking out to grasp what might really be going on. Then the manager announced for all customers to immediately go to the back of the store…lock down by order of police. While joining the others scrambling to the back I called Cheri and interrupted her pleasantries: “Cheri, I am in west side Marshalls there is a shooting outside. We are in lock down. Inform Ron”. I hung up.
The guy who ran in the store, I learned in a short time by his own report, was the owner of the structure in which the shooting occurred. He heard the shots. He heard people say by name to the shooter” What are you doing? Don’t do this” …bam, bam, bam. As he told this report from the back of the store, he shouted again that the doors be barred. Of course, they already were. At first, I thought he was going to be a problem, over-panicked, a hysteric who could cause more alarm than necessary. I considered that I might need to calm him down. That wasn’t the case, though.
We were in lock down for a bit over two hours. I never felt endangered. I thought it though and considered eminent danger unlikely given we were a couple of structures down from the shooting location and that (via the media reports), nearly the entire Madison Patrol was within a two-block radius.
When they opened the doors and I walked outside there were a couple of helicopters circling overhead and patrol cars everywhere, rows of cars headed west blocked on the road. I turned East away from the commotion and headed for Starbucks (don’t laugh at me). They were still closed given the entirety of Greenway Station was apparently on lock down. I drove to Target to pick up a camera card for my trip. Walking from my car to the door I noticed a wee shake in my system. I was beginning to feel it: I wanted to get home. Even so, I made a couple of other quick stops that were on my list of “to do”. I found the drive home time consuming. I hoped I would have enough tie to get home, unload the few groceries I picked up, make myself an espresso and with fingers crossed, get a glimpse of Ron before I began to see clients.
In early evening when Ron and I both finished with clients we had a glass of wine at our desks finishing up notes. We made dinner and Ron asked me about the deal in town, how I was. I told him I was okay, noting that once it was over and I was driving home, I felt a little shaky but it wasn’t long in duration. We took a walk, talked about the grievous condition of our society, that we at large have a lot of maturing to do. We watched a bit of “Barnaby” and went to bed.
Ron can verify that I often am asleep within a minute of hitting the pillow, literally. So these recent restless nights are quite rare for me and I chalk it up to “advance missing of him”. This morning however, I woke up about 1:00. I heard the rain on our metal roof and just listened. The longer I listened to the rain, the more I could remember what the people in Marshalls looked like. I thought this odd in a way, but I’m a visual person, so perhaps not so odd. I could clearly see the man who got us to lock the doors; mid aged, young looking, casual shirt, styled hair but by then hand ruffled quite a bit. I saw a younger middle-aged woman, about the age of our girls who was leaving later that day for Vegas with four friends. She had pretty blond straight hair, clear skin, calm eyes. She had told me how the previous night her husband couldn’t find the clothes basket that was within an arm’s reach of himself. We both laughed and just cocked our heads. Even more clearly, I saw a young, petite mother to be, her belly all smoothed and egged. She wore a head scarf that ovaled her face and seemed to balance the oval of her full belly. She was truly lovely in her symmetry. She was with her lover no doubt, given his constant hand on her and his quiet voice. I saw a younger woman, sitting alone staring out into the store. She looked so hearty and healthy and poised in her solitude…Interestingly, in my reflection, she was the one person I wished I had engaged and inquired of how she was holding up despite my instinct that she was independent, okay, and just waiting the time out. I saw that large man, keeping his arm around his woman emanating safety and control. He had been nearby when I was still in the front of the store and he called to his wife and said “we must get out now”. I can still see many of the other faces as well. I noticed there were no children, but of course why would there be it was a school day.
As I lay listening to the rain, seeing these people over and over I realized that I was more disturbed by this experience than I had yet allowed myself to feel. I let myself go into some eye movements to process the ordeal. My eyes were eager to shift laterally, a sure sign I needed to do so. My self-induced REMs were steady and consistent, a good sign, I thought. Then I began to feel a surge, a quick breath and my reactive thought was “god damn guns!” I saw the little pregnant woman again and the beautiful girl going off with her friends for a fun time in Vegas and thought of our beautiful Jenny and Krissie. “God Damn the god damn guns!” Then in one instant I began to cry. My crying spontaneously out loud is about as rare as my not sleeping. Yet in the very moment of hearing my own cry, I felt a safety in the cry welcomed further subs. I noticed that within the first audible sob, Ron’s hand was immediately on me. Bless him. He is always there for me. I cried a bit more letting my body finish up this needed release. I began then to think of more familiar faces…thought of how hard this last year in particular has been for my friends Holly and Bud. I thought about our friend Elaine in Newfoundland, who really would take care of me. I thought about Tim, our best friend in CO and how important he is to us given that he knows Ron and I collectively better than anyone else. I thought about Jenny and James planning their wedding and Krissie and Gavin and Alexis and the entwining of their lives. I thought about the clients I see day by day, name by name…even clients from years ago. They all kept showing up in my mind. I thought about the wonderful neighbors on all sides of our little house in Lodi. I thought about Ron, his hand still on me and mine on him. I thought about everyone I know close and dear near and far. It was an explosion of connection with everyone on the planet, so it felt. I felt the “we” of those I am closest to and the “we” of those I have only known for two hours. I felt the “we” of America and Portugal. I felt the “we” of those dear people two building down from Marshalls.
Like the one gal that I wished I had engaged, I am a very independent person and I would just as well sit alone in a crisis than be in the collective. That is just my way. It is a gift. Yet even so, in this brief encounter of potential danger, I experienced the necessity of the “we”.
Crying and breathing this “we” was good for me. How holy to love, to live, to “we”. This night’s interruption wasn’t about just me selfishly missing Ron and Ron missing me for a few days away. It was about potentially missing neighbors, family, best friends, clients and strangers in a lock down. This night was about the “we” that we all are. The “we” that we each must be.