Sunday, March 28, 2021

Thoughts & Prayers

Once in a while I get asked by an astutely aware friend, "Why is it that every time you walk into a building you stop for a few seconds and look around?"

If you really want to know I have three stories for you.  Before I explain, you always tell me how lucky I am to have grown up and lived in Colorado my whole life.  I largely agree but these three stories offer a different and rarely explored perspective that may just change your mind:

1) It was a somber day in sixth grade, our teachers were a wreck and we had no idea why.  Despite their best efforts learning for the day had come to a screeching halt.  After school I got into my Mom's car and I instantly knew something was amiss.  She had tears streaming down her face with a talk radio show blaring, all of which was odd.  She told me that someone had walked into a high school, not far away, with a gun and had started shooting.  We don't know what is happening but it doesn't look good.  Dread filled my stomach and a knot of fear filled my throat as I asked if my brother was okay.  He's fine she said, this is at Columbine High School, 20 minutes from where your brother goes to high school, which is also only 20 minutes from my elementary school.  Later that night we found out that my brothers friends at Columbine had made it out okay.

However 13 died and 21 were injured while at school.

I pleaded with my mom to not send me back to school, I'd rather not get killed at school.  She consoled me and told me not to worry, this type of thing never happens.  Little did she know that would no longer hold true.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

2) I went to college in downtown Denver and had many friends and acquaintances in the Denver / Aurora area.  There was no shortage of things to do in and around downtown with movie theatre outings being one of the many prime activities.  Imagine my horror in 2012 when I found out there was a shooting in a movie theatre (the term "shooting" or "active shooter" was now a known term for this type of thing.  You no longer had to explain that was when someone walked in with a gun and started firing).  The theatre was in Aurora and was one of the many theatres I had been to many times before, not long ago.  I currently lived in a Denver suburb and I had even entertained the idea of going to a midnight showing of this very same movie, that very same night, at a different theatre.  I chickened out last minute claiming I was too old for midnight showings as my excuse.  To this day I still have yet to see this movie.

12 souls lost their lives and 70 more were injured while just trying to watch a movie.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

3) Fast forward to 2021, I now live just outside of Boulder, Colorado.  I own a not so fancy home and I have an awesome blog where I show people how they can grow their own food.  For the first few years I lived in this town I would go to Boulder frequently, often several times a week.  I had after all found my new favorite yoga studio.  I justified the drive because this yoga studio happened to be right next to a King Soopers so I could go to yoga and knock out any shopping I had to do at the same time.  Plus if I timed it right it was only a 20 to 30 minute drive, not too bad.  Sometimes after yoga fellow yogis and myself would go to one of the many great restaurants that are in this same shopping center.  Other days I would meet people to hike in this shopping center, I'll meet you in the King Soopers parking lot off Table Mesa we'd say.  Even after a new yoga studio popped up in Longmont that I adore, there's still a very fine establishment in this shopping center that I visit semi-regularly a few doors down from the Table Mesa grocery store.  Imagine my horror when my phone starts buzzing with headlines of "Police Responding to Active Shooter in Boulder."  I pull up the news and realize this is the very same King Soopers I have been into hundreds of times.  From the news helicopter video coverage I could see my favorite parking spot for the yoga studio I used to frequent.  Another video shows lifeless bodies laying in the parking lot in the exact same spot I used to walk over to buy my groceries not long ago.

10 people took their last breathes while picking up their groceries.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

So you see, whenever I walk into a building the first thing I do is I pause and look around to see where the exits are.  If you keep watching me, you'll normally see me walk towards the the back of the building to see where potential exits are at the back and sides of the building for I know that a shooting can happen anywhere and anytime, I am not immune.

This is done not out of fear but out of necessity if I want a chance of staying alive if I should find myself stuck in this all too common active shooter situation.  This is something you should also do along with knowing the meaning of:  Run, Hide, Fight.  

Our thoughts and prayers are with you are all that's ever said by our elected politicians with no meaningful action ever being done.  Words alone won't stop this from happening again, a very wise man named Albert Einstein once said,

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Which is why I always pause and look around for a few moments when walking into buildings.

After over 20 years of these kinds of senseless acts of violence occurring across the nation at an alarming and ever increasing rate, whenever I hear the words "our thoughts and prayers are with you" muttered from politicians it feels like a knife is being thrust into the communities back.  Actions speak louder than words and when no action is done your words mean nothing.

Because of this non-action it's not a matter of if another shooting will occur but only when and where and how many innocent people will have their lives cut short because of over 20 years of nothing more than "our thoughts and prayers are with you."

How many lives will be lost.
How many families must be shattered.
How many dreams will suddenly fade away into the ether.
Before something is actually done.

Temporary Memorial
Temporary memorial setup by the community directly in front of the King Soopers turning the crime scene fencing into a seemingly endless wall of flowers, notes, letters, names, and pleas.

Names of Those Who Died
The names of those who lost their lives at this King Soopers grocery store.

Crosses at the Memorial
Ten crosses, one for each person killed, among a sea of flowers.

Police Car and Flowers
Officer Talley's patrol car in front of the Boulder Police Station.

Sign and Flowers on Police Car
Heart breaking notes, signs, and letters taped to Officer Talley's patrol car which is also surrounded and covered with flowers and balloons.

Sign, Flowers and Flag
Pleas from the community are in no short supply among the flowers while the American flag waves in the background.

This tragedy occurred in Boulder, Colorado on 3/22/2021, these photos were taken on 3/27/2021.  While paying my respects to those who lost their lives I could feel the stagnant evil energy clashing with the loving, grieving, and healing energy of this community.  I saw survivors sitting on the sidewalk with signs contemplating why their lives were spared, family and friends of those lost not knowing what to do, kids laying on the ground crying, musicians serenading, grief counselors praying, a whole lot of people stunned that this could happen in their town all with the scraping sound of broken glass in the background as a policeman worked to cleanup glass in front of the store with a broom.  Amongst, as you can see, a seemingly endless and literal wall of flowers, notes, letters, names, and pleas.

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