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Grappling With Grief In Light Of The Tragedy In Aurora

20 Jul

As I open Facebook, I see pictures of middle school and college friends sharing first days with their newborns, and otheres bringing back their babies from the hospital. I see new marriages being celebrated. Engagements, happy moments.  Just hours ago, I congratulated them all, thanking God for being so miraculous and amazing. I am laughing at how, one friend I’d met the first day I moved into my dorm, once seriously and chronically addicted to a game we coined “The Bean Game,” could now be in charge of a human life. Oh, how God loves us…

I’m seeing my boyfriend tonight for the first time in a week. I look forward to these reunions, life is good. I’m thankful…

It’s Friday. My favorite day of the week. We get free bagels and donuts and the only thought in my mind is how I’m going to secure an Old Fashioned donut for one of my bosses who gets bummed if they run out before he gets there. I’d better hurry…

I’m wondering when and how my friends are going to coordinate our schedules in order to see “The Dark Knight Rises” in IMAX…

I’m in the elevator going up from the mail room where I grabbed my other boss’s Wall Street Journal. I don’t read the headlines.  And that’s when I get a text…

“Did you hear about Colorado?”

“Not really. Something about a shooting but no details.” I reply, sadly blaze.  I listened to podcasts, don’t have a TV, and hadn’t checked Google News yet.

And then it all changes. I go the news for the first time. Aurora, Colorado. 12 dead. 58 injured. Midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Wait, what? Aurora? Colorado? Aurora Mall?! THE Aurora Mall?

I was born in Aurora, Colorado. I lived there for 8 years. It’s likely I went to the Aurora Mall every week of my life or close to it until we moved to Chicago when I was in the third grade. It’s a pretty normal suburban town.  I have fond, idyllic memories of Aurora, Colorado. I swallow. Tears welling, throat closing.

This time, it feels closer to home because it IS my home.

I look at the Twitter feed, find old friends who lived in Colorado to see their FB statuses. I start crying at my desk. Too close to home.  They were just going to see a movie. They thought it was special effects. I don’t think I know anyone personally, but still. It’s my hometown.

And then suddenly I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. I have questions. God, where are you in this? Will we ever know? Why is this world so broken? How is this happening?  The same God who allows people to come into this world…how could He allow people to leave it when they just wanted to go to the movies with their friends and families? Is that the wrong question?  Why would someone murder people in cold blood at the movies? What do I do with my questions? Why is this happening again?

As I’m thinking of this, moments from February come rushing back when a 15 year old freshman decided to jump off his high school’s roof in the town where I worked at the high school where one of my good friends teach and where kids from my church attend.  A high school, which I was at for a career fair just days after the tragedy.  A high school were this kind of thing doesn’t happen. But maybe I should stop saying that, because it does. And it is. More and more.

Then come moments from September 11th when my boyfriend at the time lived 4 blocks from the World Trade Center and I couldn’t contact him for a few hours.  For days after we were all trying to make sense of it. Why? How? Who would do such a thing? This is America. How is it things like this keep happening?

I realize bad things happen. They have since the beginning of time when there was sin. We live in a fallen world. But that doesn’t console me today when I read about a young woman who was studying to be a broadcast journalist who just wanted to go to the movies.

It doesn’t help me when I see pictures of people standing outside of my brother’s high school, wondering where their missing kids are.

People will blame. People will grasp. And at the end of the day, all I can do is keep asking my questions and keep hoping beyond hope that the God of this universe will console. He is bigger than this and he sees outside of time. He will meet us in our need. He will protect and love us and be the place we go when we have questions, when we have grief. When we wonder what is happening in this world.

I settle upon Psalm 34:

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

And there it is.

I don’t pretend to understand. I just want to hope.

I just want to hug my family and friends.

I just want to remember Aurora the way it was.

And I just want people to be able to go to the movies without worrying that their lives will become one.


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