Celestine “Stiny” Chaney loved pink. Ruth Whitford was the proud matriarch of her family. Aaron Salter, a security guard at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, died trying to save Stiny and Ruth, and seven other victims.
Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles died trying to save their students. Amerie Jo Garza, who’d just made the Honor Roll, died trying to alert 911 operators to the maniac who was shooting her fellow students. Tess Mata left behind a sister who played softball with her. Jayce Luevanos was killed along with his cousin, Jailah Silguero.
Now there are voids where these 31 people used to be. Holes in their families, among their friends, in their communities. The young ones’ paths have been erased; their parents’ dreams for them are no more. We will never know what they could have been. The older ones will no longer savor memories; their life experiences have been lost, their legacies incomplete. All of their futures, young or old, have been blanked out.
Because two vicious, hateful, enraged young men decided that they had the right to wipe out all those lives, shatter all those families, desolate the people who are suddenly mourning. Nothing will ever be the same in the communities of the East Side of Buffalo and Uvalde. Where was bustle and conversation, and learning and celebration, now there is silence, the silence of nothing, of emptiness. If the Tops Market reopens, those who shop there will do so while looking over their shoulders for the next attack. When the teachers and students go back to Ross Elementary, they won’t be able to shake the horror of a morning that began with awards and movies. They, too, will be wary, perhaps surrounded by a military-like phalanx of guards, and they will wonder about ghosts. Two much-loved teachers will be missing from their classrooms.
And after all this shock and terror, grief and devastation, there will be….NOTHING. We have a U.S. House and Senate largely owned by merchants of death, corporations who profit from the slaughter of humans. Along with organizations who successfully wield enormous influence to threaten the positions of elected representatives. A solid block of Republicans and a smattering of Democrats who refuse to do anything about the endless, relentlessly ongoing massacres. There is nothing we citizens can do for the time being. We can only vote for candidates who have the courage to stand up for sane gun laws, IF the respective parties will actually run such rare creatures. I’m not optimistic.
I’ll close with the words of Amanda Gorman, a brilliant young poet, because she sees light that I don’t, and maybe her vision is clearer.
Hymn for the Hurting
May 27, 2022
Our hearts shadowed and strange,
Minds made muddied and mute.
We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
And yet none of it is new;
We knew it as home,
Even our children
Cannot be children,
It’s a hard time to be alive,
And even harder to stay that way.
We’re burdened to live out these days,
While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.
This alarm is how we know
We must be altered —
That we must differ or die,
That we must triumph or try.
Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
It can be transformed
Into a love that lets us live.
May we not just grieve, but give:
May we not just ache, but act;
May our signed right to bear arms
Never blind our sight from shared harm;
May we choose our children over chaos.
May another innocent never be lost. Maybe everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed & strange.
But only when everything hurts
May everything change.