The Las Vegas shooting occurred on the night of October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Nevada. After the shooting stopped, 58 people were dead and more than 500 were injured.
My daughter called the day after the shooting. Her voice vibrated with the uncertainty of “What if?” With her husband, they had planned to attend the music festival in Nevada for their anniversary, but friends invited them to attend a beach outing instead.
Devastated mothers, fathers, spouses, partners, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, relatives, friends and coworkers question why it happened to their loved one. No one knows the answer — they are left wondering in angst.
Happenstance. Fate. Fluke. Coincidence. Mystery. We question why it happened.
The tragedy of a horrifying event brings questions on the wretchedness of humanity. A thief arrived in the night, devalued human life, stole our security and trampled justice. Why?
I am eternally grateful my daughter and son-in-law changed their minds and headed in another direction to another location. I am thankful they are alive and well. Children are not supposed to die before their parents.
But I think about the other mothers who wept beside children’s caskets — and who continue to weep as they process gut-wrenching grief. Minds and spirits frozen in a moment of time that seems like infinity. Wounded. Broken. Shattered. Emotional pain so deep that it hurts to breathe. Suffering so severe that it hurts to be alive. Traumatic shock to the immune and nervous systems. Life on earth forever changed.
TIME listed the victims’ pictures, names and stories. A reporter had obviously contacted the family members and asked them to describe the qualities of deceased loved ones. I read each name and prayed for each family. Premature death is a reality and we think our loved ones are exempt.
Rick Warren, a pastor and author wrote, “During my days of deepest grief, in all of my shock, sorrow and struggle, I sat at the feet of God. I literally spent hours each day reading God’s word, meditating on scripture and praying. I intentionally spent a significant amount of time being still before God.” Warren’s youngest son committed suicide in 2013, after years of struggling with mental illness.
“Disappointment with God” and “Where is God When It Hurts?” Books by Phillip Yancey explored the unfairness of life, yet concluded that God is fair.
Anne Roiphe wrote “Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” A molecule of hope must bubble up for the survivors to begin to see a speck of light in the shadows. Time is an ointment for suffering. Inhaling and exhaling becomes less difficult. Resiliency visits.
Albeit, I look to celestial places with questions while holding tightly to my faith. And I realize there are no earthly answers for what happened on that ill-fated evening.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.
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