Life mirrors life, ya know? While Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others played out a large-scale tragedy in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, our own small lives enacted a personal tragedy in Phoenix. Our sister-in-law, who had fought with cancer, was memorialized in a 2-hour-plus-the-food ceremony. She left behind 3 sons, 2 in High School, and a legally-divorced, but still-dedicated husband. She left a father, a mother, brothers and friends. She left elementary students she had taught for the first half of the year, teenage girls she had mentored through her church, and supporters in a cancer group she had joined.
It isn’t that the death of Danielle means more in the grand scope than the deaths of those 6 people in Tucson, including a 9 year old child. It isn’t that, because she was a recovering drug addict and a “friend of Jesus” her life was more important. It’s just that, because I loved her, because she made me laugh on my wedding day when I thought I’d throw up from nerves, because I knew her boys when they were still peeing in diapers, that makes it seem bigger to me. The void, regardless of the drama that went with her life, feels huge. In part, that’s because I’m now back at home and can’t clean houses, carry casseroles or mow lawns for those boys. And the postmortem psychosis has begun, so there are feuds and arguments and accusations flying around. Gratefully, I’m sheltered from that mess except the occasional email.
But I’m not sheltered from the Tucson shooting. That’s an almost hourly reminder that there are other voids, other holes where lives should be. I don’t look around the corner, expecting to see Danielle. But someone does. And someone, lots of other someones, look for those 6 who were shot down. Still more pray, as we prayed for Danielle, that their loved ones will heal from wounds, that they won’t feel pain, that they will be okay.
The difference, too, is that Danielle’s death didn’t happen in a second. It wasn’t some deranged gun owner who killed her. It was her own body, over producing cells that doctors couldn’t stop. But, still, there was time for everyone to say goodbye. The last words spoken to her were words of love. There was no fight to regret, no anger to repent. So, her death, while being more consuming to me, is less of a sorrow. At least I got to hug her before she died.
Damn, I hate gun owners.