This I Believe

Linda - Greensboro, North Carolina
Entered on April 21, 2007

Thirty-Two or Thirty-Three?

I believe I am doing things right. I like the person my fourteen-year-old daughter is turning out to be, the way she sees the world, the compassion that flows from her. There are moments I suspect she was not switched at birth.

Friday my kids and I, along with so many others on the National Day of Mourning, all wore maroon and orange, a show of support for a community so torn by the actions of a soul so torn. I baffles me how the actions of one could affect so many. How his anger and pain could result in aim so true.

Emily told me that she was proud she wore maroon and orange today; that many of her classmates seemed unaware of the maroon and orange dress code de jour. It apparently elicited conversation about the horrors that Blacksburg witnessed this week. Emily said that one classmate explained, “Yes, thirty-two people died there on Monday.”

Emmy told me she corrected them, saying, “No, there were thirty-three people who died.” And to me she said, “You know, Mom, maybe if he’d felt like he counted when he was seven or ten or seventeen he wouldn’t have been moved to do what he did. Maybe if he hadn’t gone through his whole life being ignored because he was different or whatever he would have turned out differently.”

Because no one was around I just had to give her a hug, but I know that even if we’d been at her school when she said that I would have hugged her anyway, I was just so proud. I told her, “You know Emily, I’ve always liked you, but I’ve got to tell you that you are exactly the sort of person I want to you to be. I love the way you see this.”

I hate that this man/boy was so troubled. It seems people did notice, some did reach out, but clearly the damage had been done, the pains and scars inflicted long ago. Unheard, unseen and uncounted, he lived his life watching people but not interacting, listening but not speaking, perhaps even reaching out but not connecting. He experienced his life as he now experiences his death, uncounted.

If we learn from this, if we pay attention, if we allow his troubled soul to teach every one of us that every soul should count, perhaps we could avert a similar situation. And even as we hate his actions and we mourn for and cry with the families of the victims whose lives are forever changed, let us also cry for the family of this soul who was lost long before we lost the souls on Monday April 16th. Let us hold them all in our hearts, these suffering families. Let us say that all of them count.

Written with love, sorrow, and a heavy heart on April 20, 2007, a national day of mourning.