The kids were trying to talk me into going to the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises last night, but I said no. I think they were shocked since I usually say yes. We have gone to three midnight premieres this summer. They have been the most fun evenings of the summer.
But I just couldn't do it last night. I was too worn out. I haven't been sleeping well lately. It's that time of year. As the anniversary of Charles's death approaches, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night. I turn on the light. I stare at the wall for awhile and hope I'll fall back asleep. I think weird thoughts like this one: Soon, he's going to be dead again.
This thought makes no sense. I cannot explain it to you.
He is always dead.
Ironically, the kids were both in bed by ten and I was up until 1:30. Sleep eludes me.
This morning, I watched the news about the mass shooting in Colorado and felt sick to my stomach. I watched the interviews with the people who were in the theater. They're all in shock and this is why they can answer Matt Lauer's bull shit questions. In a few weeks, the shock will wear off. Things will get really difficult then. I hope they have good friends and loved ones who will be there for them when their brains stop protecting them from the sharp edges of their memories. My heart breaks for them because I know they are at the beginning of a journey that will not ever end.
Facebook seemed relatively quiet most of the day. I expected more idiots to start whining about their gun rights. I suspect I've unsubscribed from most of the jackholes whose first thought is that everyone should be armed. Do you know why they think this way? Because they like to imagine themselves as the hero. "If I was there, I'd pull out my gun and save the day. Oh, and I have a big penis."
No you wouldn't and no you don't.
But whatever. Keep your damn guns. (Keep them away from me. I will never live with a gun in my house again.) Honestly, I don't want to hear a bunch of debates about guns. I want people to talk about mental illness. Debate that. Discuss that. Wear a fucking colored ribbon that indicates that you give a damn about that. (Until we start talking about mental illness in this country like we talk about cancer, we will never get anywhere.)
I did see this on Facebook from someone who thinks (foolishly) that having a gun will make it easier to go out into the world: "I want to maintain the freedom to walk down the street, to let my son play at the park, to go watch a movie with friends - today we lost another small morsel of that freedom."
While I understand why he believes this, I am also sort of stunned by this kind of thinking.
If, until today, you didn't realize that the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place, then you must have been asleep in a tub of Matrix goo. Mass murders have been going on since there were masses of people to murder.
Oh, the humanity, you say? This IS humanity. This IS the world. It is no different than it has ever been.
I do not see this as cynicism. This is reality. Don't fool yourself that the world was better/safer/nicer/more innocent in another era. If you believe the stories of the bible, then you know that the third person on this planet killed the fourth person on the planet.
But here's what I want to say: Your freedoms were not taken away today.
You are still free to move about this world as you see fit. The only reason you wouldn't is because of fear.
Here's a story for you. When I came home, ten days after my ex-husband died in my garage, I thought I would not go in there for quite some time. I had friends who asked if I needed to rent an apartment, if I needed them to move me out of my house so I wouldn't have to return to the scene. I am nothing if not practical and that idea seemed ludicrous. Who would pay for my apartment? When would I come back to the house?
I said I was fine. I could go home. Luckily (luckily is the wrong fucking word), Charles died in the garage. I could shut the door to that space and I could avoid parking my car in there. I did worry about the kitchen door that leads to the garage. I worried about the corner of my dining room, just outside the kitchen, where I stood with my back against the wall and spoke to the 911 operator that night. In that corner, right next to the doorway to the kitchen, is where I spoke to a woman who told me not to move. So I stayed on the line and I stared at the blood pooling onto the kitchen floor through the open door to the garage. How would I avoid that area? I couldn't. I had to deal with it.
I could, however, avoid the garage. I could shut that door and lock it.
But when we got home for the first time after Charles had died, the first thing I wanted to do was go into that garage.
Because fuck fear, that's why.
Fear is the favorite tool of the devil and Fox News. It is made to keep you inside, to keep you small, to keep you silent, to sell you guns.
I waited until the kids were distracted in their rooms and I went in that garage. I stood where I'd been when Charles destroyed himself in front of me. My knees - my weak, cliched knees - buckled beneath me and I reached out and grasped the white wire shelving to steady myself.
I stood there for several minutes. I looked at freshly painted walls. Friends had been busy here, trying to make things OK. I looked at the ceiling, cleaned but not painted. Patches of the ceiling had been scraped away, forming a discolored constellation that was (still is) proof that this horror had really happened.
After I looked at this place and saw it was real, I went back into the house and shut the door.
I didn't park in the garage for awhile - weeks, maybe - until one day it was raining and I was sick of parking outside and I was sick of being ruled by worrying about the unthinkable thing that had already been thought, that had already been done.
So I pulled the car into the garage.
Because fuck fear, that's why.
Today, I took the kids to the 3:15 showing of The Dark Knight Rises. There were two security guards at the entrance. We handed over our tickets. We bought soda and popcorn and M&Ms and Mike & Ike's and I handed over a small fortune in payment.
Here's the thing: Anything can happen at any moment. Things that you could not have even imagined will happen in this world because someone is out there imagining it for you. Are you going to stay inside? Are you going to only go to the park if you have a gun in your pocket? Are you going to stay in your home? Because I'm here to tell you, the worst shit you can think up can happen in your home. It can happen anywhere.
I don't say this to frighten you. I say this to free you.
This is your life. Your ONE life. Your one brief moment on this planet. In 125 years, everyone who is walking the Earth right now will be gone. A whole new set of people will have taken our places.
So go to the park. Go to the store. Go to the mall. Go to the movies.
You are here now. This is all you get. Do not willingly hand over your freedom.
Because fuck fear, that's why.