My Thoughts on the Las Vegas Tragedy: Things That Surprise Me, Things I Want to Remember

Writing always helps one process information, so that’s all I’m doing here. Nothing deep. I just pay for this .com, you know? This is my space to clear my mind, which, today, the day after a major devastation in my city, is a jumble of polar opposite emotions and thoughts.

Sadly, tragedies are not rare.

I become too aware of this when I accidentally swipe right on my phone, and inadvertently see scary news headlines.

I don’t let myself watch the news anymore.

Still, I’m not ignorant to the goings on of this life.

I was caught off guard by the emotional turmoil felt community-wide when the largest US shooting happened miles from our home.

It wasn’t just on the news…it was real.

It was real, live, see-all-the-time friends that were there. It was our friends’ law enforcement husbands, who left their homes and sleeping children, to help. My friends, and even coworkers, who are mothers, wives, and daughters, were there, running through a gruesome scene to escape. Brian and I, and EVERYONE in our community, have heard stories and stories, from the witnesses that are even able to discuss them.

The terrible, gory sights. The buzz of bullets for nine minutes. The feel of a bullet next to you. The disorientation.

Other things I don’t even want to type here.

The juxtaposition of that and the whole-hearted, compassionate reaction from the city of Las Vegas (and the rest of the nation) is emotionally overwhelming. Strangers driving injured to the hospital. People donating anything and everything. A massive response to the dire need for blood donations, nationwide.

My friend Rachel posted about a Starbucks patron leaving $200 to spread around for drive through drink orders.
Lines of people wrapped around Costco as they purchased items to donate.
My kids were offered free balloons, just because.

Our town has made a noticeable, conscious effort to be kind.

It’s heavy. With both the bloodshed and caring outreach within hours, it’s a lot to process.

Even on an absolutely gorgeous, bright October day, it feels a lot darker.

What’s it like to watch world wide headlines develop in your hometown?

The news frequently gives updates. Reporters keep you in the loop and supply helpful information.

A couple days later, the world has (what feels to be like) the audacity to move on so quickly. CNN find new interesting stories. A Kardashian has other news.

And your city is left just blinking and disheveled…with its own hashtag. #(yourcity)strong

That’s what it’s like (according to me).

It’s really, really…confusing?

Just for my own record, my experience was this:

Brian caught a glimpse of the tragedy (I can’t even say it) on his phone. It was immediately after it happened on October 1, right before we went to bed. He said, “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.” At the time, just two deaths had been confirmed.

I told him I couldn’t hear about it before bed. Brian knows this about me. I can’t check my bank account or watch the news before bed because I can’t be in an adulting state of mind and expect to fall asleep. Besides, it was my son’s birthday the next morning!

The next morning, we woke up to several missed calls and texts from out of state friends and family. Brian said, “Babe, I think whatever happened last night was really bad because people are checking on us.”

I stayed glued to my phone, the news…and then we didn’t talk about it the rest of the day to be fun birthday parents! I didn’t want the mood to seep into my son’s birthday, especially because I already didn’t get him the presents he wanted. (Whoops.)

There was a pit in my stomach that I couldn’t shake. With 22,000 people in attendance, and almost 600 passed away or injured, I knew, knew, knew that I’d know someone. I just felt sick.

I took my kids to Chuck E Cheese so I could be on my phone more discreetly while they played and account for close friends.

The names slowly started coming in. The people that had passed, the people that were hurt, the people not responding and missing…

I was teary all day. Nothing had happened to me, personally, and my friends were all shaken, but okay. We felt SO, SO blessed. That’s why I felt being teary was odd.

I received countless texts from sweet friends in my area, trying to figure out what to do. What was needed? Is everyone in our area alright? Does anyone need babysitters to donate blood or take food to the long lines or police stations? I have really, truly caring friends.

Brian came home from work early. He said it just felt weird, and no one was productive.

My son had been asking to revisit a specific restaurant since February, and we’d promised him we’d go for his birthday; however, it’s located right behind The Strip. Reroute.

He was absolutely not having it. He’d been begging to go to the “chop chop restaurant” all summer.

And you know how moms are with guilt.

We went. We made the trek.

It felt haunted. I drove on the much-quieter-than-usual freeway adjacent to The Strip. What is usually packed, rush hour traffic was smooth sailing, but I still couldn’t look away from Mandalay Bay’s clearly missing windows. The visible concert stage looked like it was untouched. I tried to put out of my mind what I also knew was still there, untouched, as the scene was still being thoroughly processed. My car being just yards away felt horribly disrespectful…even though I was on a freeway. I immediately thought of the families, particularly those that had gathered in the area that morning to search for loved ones. (Many personal belongings of thousands, including phones and cars, were still at the inaccessible “scene,” and injured had been scattered to multiple hospitals across Las Vegas.)

Rather than glittering advertisements, the giant casino signs flashed one of three messages on a black screen. Something along the lines of:

To locate a missing loved one, please call 888…
Blood donations needed
Our prayers are with the victims families, and our gratitude to our first responders.

I held back tears again. Because, BIRTHDAY! Because, MOM GUILT! How could I be crying on my son’s birthday he was SO looking forward to for months?!

I also wondered, why am I crying? How dare I, a healthy, safe person, with a happy family, cry here?

I felt like praying would be more appropriate, and even though I’m religious, I wondered, what am I praying for, exactly?

I felt a little put off by the thousands of people out of state posting “Pray for Vegas.” Did they mean it? Do they know the bloodshed, exactly, as they drink their Pumpkin Spice Latte in the other hand? Do they really understand how our friends and friends’ families ran out of there with a smattering of strangers’ blood on their clothes, and ran and ran and ran? Do they know the heroes of this city that literally, without exaggeration, saved hundreds?

(So, again…why am I the one crying as I’m driving to dinner?)

I felt little flutters of a new life inside me, and that made me so overwhelmed/comforted/happy/anxious, all within the same second.

We had a fun dinner (which I also felt a little guilty/eerie about), and saw multiple candlelight vigils on street corners on the way home.

After kissing my kids, squeezing them extra tightly, and getting them in bed, Brian and I hopped back on the news and our phones. That’s when I started noticing strange Facebook posts about the Las Vegas catastrophe being a conspiracy.

Um, what?
Really?

I know better to comment on Facebook, but I did unfriend these people, for the record. (Haha)

I also noticed how quickly people flipped a switch from “Praying for Las Vegas!” “Love Las Vegas!” posts to infuriated Second Amendment related debates.

All while candles were being lit and prayers said at our local parks.

I’m unsure about what my personal reaction to all of this is. Confusion? Hope? Impressed by the kindness of my city? Fear for this world?

I’m not sure what the correct written response is. I’m not sure how the uninjured but shaken general public is supposed to act, feel, or what to say. I AM very thankful my kids aren’t old enough to require explanation.

Just had to write this all down, and highlight for my future reference this one thing: the genuinely compassionate, generous, and overall GOOD people may not always make themselves apparent, but they’re there and ready to give a good fight, and those people far outnumber the opposite. There is unyielding, immovable strength in kindness, unity, and service.

Teach this to your kids, Ashton.

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2 Comments

  1. THANK YOU for sharing this. I can’t imagine. And this: “There is unyielding, immovable strength in kindness, unity, and service.” Yes, yes, yes.

  2. Love. I felt all these same things last year when our police force in dallas was attacked blocks from Danny’s store. Hopefully we can teach our kids how to be kind in this harsh unkind world!

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