People talk of heartbreak all the time-- mostly from disappointment in love affairs, sometimes in their relationships with their family. But the heartbreak of having lost a loved one in a random act of violence is one that can not be borne. Here in the metro Denver area, the Columbine families continue to suffer and now we have (at least) 12 new families who have joined their ranks. The news continues to focus on the drama of the shooter- the (apparently) excellent neuroscience post-grad student who one day left the ranks of the ordinary student/man/American to become join the ranks of the notorious-- like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Timothy McVeigh (not to mention the deceased Columbine shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold). Having left his home booby trapped with bombs and incendiary devices, onlookers can only shake their collective heads in puzzlement as to what happened in such a mind to create such a nefarious and destructive plot.
The natural human reaction is to ask WHY???? My co-workers and I were no less human in our reaction yesterday and one coworker suggested that perhaps we long to know why because we want to assure ourselves that we are not capable of committing such atrocities. Or perhaps we want to be sure that our neighbors and coworkers are not potential assassins.... whatever our desire, it seems to me that the WHYS and WHOs are as random as an atom's ability to appear as a wave or a particle.
And for my part I stand amazed at this randomness even as I mourn... one person is standing, another dying (or dead) on the ground, one person gives witness and the other is too injured to speak. The theater that was assaulted yesterday (shortly after midnight Friday morning) was a few miles from my work. One customer came to my desk and when asked how she was said she was trying to get by. She'd had a friend in that building who was shot. Another regular customer said he knew someone there who had not been shot but was no less terrorized. My own 21 year-old daughter was going to that theater that night but at the last minute cancelled her plans with her friend who was waiting at the theater. Her friend was supposed to be in theater 9 but was switched to theater 6 at the last minute. My other (older) daughter was also talking about going to the movie at that theater but her boyfriend tore his ACL days before the tickets were to be bought so they decided not to go. Some might attribute this to a deity watching over them but I do not ascribe to such vanity- for it would be vanity to see god's hand protecting my family while others are experiencing so much heartache and sorrow. (For me that always presented the biggest WHY- Why them and not me? Why me and not them?) So I will not attribute this to anyone's god. I am simply glad that the particles fell into place for me and my family that night.
As for the WHY? There is no reason that can explain or mollify the broken hearts of the people who lost loved ones yesterday. The heartbreak will not be lessened with an answer, it is simply there. Pain and sorrow and tears and a huge broken heart.