Big Cuter wanted to know how we were dealing with the news of the day. I was honest, and told him I'd ignored the whole thing. He thought that was a good plan. I'm not so sure.
Between the 49'ers' dismal performance, Breaking Bad's emotional roller coaster, and G'ma falling down, I was in no mood at all to add one other piece of sorrow to my life. I know, I know, I know.... football and television and my ancient mother ought to be on very different levels of the Worry Ladder, and they are. Unfortunately, my psyche is less than vigilant about keeping an appropriate amount of distance between them; I'm finding them mushing together just below my heart.
I feel for my boy, who loves his team to distraction. I worry about Jesse and twist around the axis of guilt/hubris/disappointment/ego Walt's constructed, and I'm still seeing G'ma collapsing under my car while I stood helplessly nearby. That's a typical Monday's worth of angst, and I was getting comfortable with it all, shoving some pieces aside, considering and discarding others, organizing my thoughts so that I could be available should anyone call or email. I avoid the television early in the day, and I had Sirius Bluegrass on the radio as I ran my errands, so the news was new to me when I returned home, joining TBG in front of the big screen.
We watched in horror.... for a few minutes.... and then I left the room. I found a book on the Kindle and I took up residence on the bed. For six hours, with only a short break for lunch, I read. Lost in a new author's murderous, mysterious world, I ignored the television and the world around me. The fantasy was more appealing than the reality.
I'm getting very good at blocking out the drone of the talking heads, relying on them only for reminders to get up and stretch my achy self. When the commercials come on, I move. I'd hear maybe and perhaps and it seems that and my stomach would clench. If we've learned nothing else from these incidents of chaos, it is knowing that there is very little truth behind the initial reporting. Reporters rush to be first, rather than to be correct.
Don't believe me? Remember NPR and CNN pronouncing that Gabby Giffords was dead as TBG sat in the ER waiting for word about me? There is danger in rushing to the microphone and we've learned to protect ourselves. But this was the first time I've actively ignored the entire situation.
I have a general sense of what's being reported - a disaffected, young, black man who some say was hearing voices and others liken to a 13 year old, playing video games in the bedroom he rented from the owner of the Thai restaurant in which he worked. No long term relationships, no obvious social skills, and those pesky voices.....my shooter heard them too.... and the connection became stronger and I went back to my book.
I fled to my book. I retreated to my book. I drowned and immersed and comforted myself with my book. The real world was too spiky, too filled with sorrow, too troubled for me. I'd look up, I'd see the images of Washington, DC, I'd remember that I could have been on an airplane to that very scene, lobbying for sensible gun legislation, reading names at the memorial ceremony, hiking the halls of Congress, telling my tale, sharing my woes, begging for understanding and action.... and I'd go right back to the book.
I try to engage. I try to participate. I try to make my voice heard. None of it is easy and all of it is needed but I'm done, for now. I cannot add one more bit of sadness to the pile. Another young life was lost, more innocents are lost or damaged, nothing is resolved, and the talking heads keep talking. The naval officer who described himself as "doing office work" was frustrated that he didn't have a weapon to use in his own defense. He worried about the civilians at the Navy Yard who "didn't sign up to put their lives in danger" when they agreed to work at the Navy Yard. The anchors talked about the shooter's disgruntled attitude, and the (un)timeliness of his paychecks, and they glommed onto passers-by with a fearsome friendliness that was frightening even 2500 miles away.
Everyone wants the story. The story is very simple. A disturbed man wielding a weapon shot a lot of people. The why's, the how's, the arguing and the bloviating and the shouting don't change that. I don't know what will. I just know that today, for this moment, for this event, for now, I am done.
I have nothing left to give, no tears left to fall. I'm numb.