We stood on the concrete where, as Emily said, her son, Gabe, lay for hours. We were surrounded by the media and the survivors and the sheriffs. There were lots of sheriffs. We made sure of that before we committed to attend.
The sun was shining, the temperatures were in the 70's, we knew the players and the program and our roles. Americans for Responsible Solutions held a press conference, and everybody came.
Colonel Bill spent this morning scanning the crowd for miscreants; he and TBG crossed paths on their circuit at the back of the pack. Carol made sure we had tissues and stiffened spines. Pia went over the talking points. Roxanna and I sat on the swivel chairs outside the store; our achy hips weren't having any more standing than absolutely necessary. I'd be speaking, but she'd be right beside me, holding the picture of Christina-as-flower-girl at her uncle's wedding.
We were to stand close by the podium as Mark introduced us, five of us, each of us with our own perspective, our own analysis, our own shtick. They are roles with which we are comfortable, because they are extensions of who we are. Randy, the mental health professional, talking about treatment and responsibility. Ken, the scholar with the Constitution tucked in his rear pocket, Emily, the mom with a hole in her heart, Pam, Gabby's staffer and pseudo-mom, and I.
We were right there twenty-six months ago, I holding the hand of an excited nine year old, Gabby wearing mittens Pam bought for her at the Walgreens next door. Mary's daughter, Emma, stood with her as her Tom's, father and son, hit Walgreens out of boredom. Mavy and Dory and Phyllis and Dorothy and George stood in line, waiting to meet and greet their Congresswoman, exchanging pleasantries.
Nothing was unusual. Nothing seemed different. And then, it was all of those things, and more.
I was privileged to stand at the podium and wonder why, when so much has been lost, when so many lives have been shattered, when the time is right, why do nothing? A common sense measure is before our Senators, and I urged them, Senators McCain and Flake, to represent those of us who were standing in front of the Safeway this morning. They are my men in Washington; I urged them to listen. I hollered at the listeners to call and write and make their voices heard.
Then I walked into Gabby's embrace. She's a tiny slip of a thing, yet her strength held me upright as I caught my breath. I put myself out front and center in a divisive issue; it's a little scary. But within the arms of my inspiration, that didn't matter.
Mark told the audience that, as Gabby leaves for therapy in the morning, she turns to him and says:
(cue Gabby chiming in with a smile and a raised, clenched fist) Fight! Fight! Fight!
If she can do it, so can I.... and so can you.
So, I'm asking, what did you do today to make the world the kind of place that Christina-Taylor imagined it could be?