I love our town. Don't you?
My husband and my friends and some of my favorite nurses and I walked through the vigil garden outside UMC last night. You might have seen me and my bright yellow socks on CNN, who were filming respectfully from a distance. There are candles and flowers and butterflies and daisy chains and streamers and sculptures. There are hand made drawings from little girls and grown men. There are potted plants and bouquets wrapped in papers from California and Oklahoma and Yuma.
A violinist stands alone in the center of the field, playing to himself and sometimes leading others in song. The mariachis asked permission to serenade us.....asked permission!....as if anyone could refuse a love song. The young man's voice rose high and sweet as the sun set and the guitarist strummed and the trumpeter blew 12 long low lovely notes that went straight from his muted instrument to my soul. It was a physical connection, and the maestro's wink at the end was an acknowledgment that we were attached on a visceral level. The song was about antigua, which was explained to me as being the old kind of love. Old or new, it was palpable.
I moved through the path of offerings, being overwhelmed. I had thought that I would be anonymous, but I was not. TBG's face has been all over the news and perhaps it was his presence that made us recognizable. Or, perhaps, it was the two Tucson Police Department officers who were accompanying us. Whatever the reason, I was noticed. Looked at. Marveled at. Watched. Approached.
The first woman who asked if she could pray for me placed her hand on one of my wounds and directed Jesus to bring me strength. I'm not much of a believer, but there was a warmth running through me as she exhorted him to get it together and make be better. Rationally, I know there was nothing. Really, it was there.
We turned the corner and Rhiannon and her little sister were watching their mom install their artwork. Two little angels, delicate, sweet, confused and proud were standing right before me. I asked if I could see the pictures. I had to laugh at the balloon which was attached to the picture of my eyeball. Do I look like I could have a string attached to me? Rhiannon studied hard on the issue; the little one said it was next and not on and pointed out the space I had apparently missed. I asked for a hug, but they'd been well trained about stranger-danger and they solemnly shook their heads no. Mom was distraught and fell all over herself apologizing, but there was no need. She was right and I was intruding. This was their moment, not mine.
The path twists and turns and follows nothing but an unplanned pattern of love. It's not quite a labyrinth, not quite a maze, not quite random. It's love.
Seeing Christina's name and photograph was almost more than I could bear. She would have loved the attention, the publicity, the notice. I just wanted her to be there with me so that we could enjoy it all together.
We moved on, and suddenly there was my name shouting itself back up in my face. For the very first time I had a sense of the enormity of the situation, of the fact that I was not my own-personal-hiding-behind-my-blogonym self. I'm a part of the saga, whether or not I chose to be. I am out there
But I am not alone. You are out there with me, Tucsonans. You with your teary eyes and your outstretched arms and your healing grace. We are in this together. A madman tried to turn our desert town into a slaughterhouse and we just won't let it happen. No way.
This is our melting pot, our cultural stew, our place to be ourselves under the warmest sun and atop the driest earth. We have the Catalinas and the Santa Ritas and the Pusch Ridge and we have each other. As Dr. King and President Obama and many of the signs we read last night, we must choose hope over fear, civility over anger. Sharing the evening with you, exchanging hugs and smiles and tentative outpourings of emotion I knew, once again, that TBG and I have chosen absolutely the right place to be just now.
I love you, Tucson, just as much as you love me.