It is nearly impossible to fathom, much less accept, that I live, and my sons will grow up, in a world where a civilian passenger aircraft can be shot out of the sky at 32,000 feet, probably by ‘mistake’.
It is just as unfathomable what happened to my friend and her family. It has weighed so heavily on me that this type of senseless tragedy could befall someone I know in real life, that I have not been able to shake the unsettled feeling I’ve felt since learning about it.
You probably heard, saw, or read about the Stay Family massacre in Houston, where 6 out of 7 members of the Stay family (39 yr old father, Stephen, 33 yr old mother, Katie, and 4 of their 5 children ranging in age from 4-14) were executed by an estranged uncle in their own home. One child, Cassidy, 15, survived a gun shot wound to the head by playing dead and alerted authorities that her uncle was en route to kill her grandparents. He was eventually apprehended.
Stephen Stay was the cousin of a friend of mine. I learned this through her FB page. She is a mother to two girls, the older of which was in preschool with my older son. And, my friend and her husband are members of the same organization that my husband is.
Other than send my support, contribute to their gofundme account (which covered the funeral expenses and Cassidy’s medical expenses and the balance will be transferred to an account for her long term care/needs), I have felt helpless about what else I can do. I know it means a lot to her that we’re in touch, that I’ve posted to FB about it and encouraged comforting thoughts and donations but that isn’t possibly enough. But, given the depth of this tragedy, could anything be enough?
The image of 6 white caskets, each bearing a large black and white photograph of the slain family member contained therein, is a haunting image of young lives cut short by someone they knew. And, if it could happen to this family, it can and does happen in countless American families and families around the world.
Where is our moral compass, our conscience, our humanity, our empathy, sympathy and compassion? When exactly did the devaluation of human life begin? Yes, I know it has been around since the dawn of time, and wars have been fought and innocent people have died. But this kind of senseless act, wherein by the hands of one the life of another is taken? And, someone one knows and, at some point in time, purportedly loved? A child? A FUCKING CHILD!
The level of depravity, the senses completely taken leave of, the soulless, psychopathic, sociopathic shells of humans walking among us is frightening. What has crept in is a feeling of imprinting otherwise mundane moments. For instance, today, when I dropped my older son off for his last day of summer school, where he ran exuberantly through the school gates eagerly anticipating the donut party, BBQ, and water slide fun that lie ahead, and once he was out of view, my eyes turned toward the enthusiastic and innocent children playing on the playground, the shrill of their laughter permeating the closed windows of my car, and the thought crossed my mind, ‘is today the day?’ And I thought of the many school shootings I’ve come to know by name, Cleveland School, Littleton, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Amish School (which doesn’t even include colleges and universities like Virginia Tech).
But, no, I will not live my life in fear as fear dims the light of love. It’s just that the worst call my parents expected to get when I was at school was that I had a tummy ache, a fever, had kissed a boy, or maybe broke my arm falling off the monkey bars (in my case it was a bike, but you get it). And, now, in a post-9/11 world, where folks care way more about themselves than they do about others, parents are guarded. We make sure to kiss our children and tell them we love them whenever they will leave our company. But, when we can’t protect them in our own homes from the evil that would kill a child, I don’t know about you, but it shakes my confidence as a parent in a series of reverberating earthquakes.
To Bryan, Emily, Becca, and Zach and to your parents Stephen & Katie, even though I didn’t know you, I knew of you through your cousin, K, and your names will be with me as I try to protect my children from grave harm and to meet hate and evil with love and strength. And, to Cassidy, be strong, grieve, and feel the love and support of the tens of thousands who know your name and pray and care for and about you.
There is no sense to be made of the senseless. Be at rest, Stay family. Together, in peace, forever.