Monday, July 8, 2013

An Odd Fourth of July

The Tour de France is climbing the Alps and I am soaking up the greenery.  TBG is flipping between Independence Day and the cycling as I try to get comfortable.  It's been a long, interesting weekend. I can't decide if I'm glad that it's over.

The Cuters began their weekends on Wednesday, she with early release from work and he with a drive to Lake Tahoe, with the groom-to-be, for a bachelor party. I decided to join them. I brought Chinese food home for dinner, read what turned out to be a trashy mystery, and watched The Big Bang Theory, Season 1, Episodes 1 - 3.  It was a wonderful day, but I couldn't relax.

The No More Names bus tour's arrival here in Tucson was planned for Tuesday and actually happening on Friday and I'd agreed to speak.  I'd only put myself front and center on the issue once before.  Standing next to Gabby and Mark and seven security guards (the ones we could identify), leaning on a podium in front of fifty reporters and cameras and microphones, I relied on Roxanna for inspiration.  If Christina-Taylor's mom could do it, so could I.  This time, though, she's back East and I'm in the courtyard of her church, listening to the reading of names.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Fourth of July was (what else) sunny and hot.  I wore silly clothes to the gym and went to the movies for the first time since Aurora.  Was there anyone else in the theater that night looking for gunmen?  I know TBG and I were on alert.

Of course, the patrons were in a celebratory mood; we were at The Loft Cinema for their annual Sing Along/Curse A Thon Fourth of July screening of Team America: World Police. Coming Attractions at this venue are works of art in their own right.  Ever reflect on the homoerotic overtones of Top Gun?  The Loft's trailer composite of Tom Cruise and Van Kilmer soulful eyes showed us what we'd been missing.  Armed with our instruction sheets, we were ready to moan and sing and insult with the marionette heroes and villains as America saved the world, right before our very eyes.

But first, we got to sing along with some of South Park's Greatest Hits, including my personal favorite, Montage.  For those unfamiliar with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's creative genius, the overview is that they skewer everyone, on all sides of every issue, with a kind heart and a potty mouth.  The twenty-somethings sitting in front of us loved every minute; it didn't take long before we, too, were waving our (provided by The Loft) glow sticks and swaying to Kim Jong Il's Ronrey.

I was distracted enough that, for the most part, I forgot that we were in the middle of the row, with no obvious way to extract ourselves should the situation turn deadly.  It was that kind of weekend.

Little Cuter worked another short day on Friday, and we amused one another since only the admin staff had shown up in her office.  Without her guys around, she has time for her mom.  So, we talked about hibiscus with twelve inch blossoms and hydrangeas of all colors, and whether fertilizer would seep through mulch.  My heart was overflowing. From G'ma through me to her, with an ample helping of MOTG to finish the chain.  I don't know if I mentioned that I was speaking that evening; we were having such a wonderful time just being us.

I exercised and swam and ate and showered and wrote my three minute remarks in the moleskine which lives in my purse. There's no need to reinvent the wheel; I thought about it, cried a little, and wrote from my heart.  We drove over, parked close, and I thanked the gentleman behind the wheel of the must-have-been-armored-because-it-was-certainly-imposing black stretch SUV with the New York plates for being there to keep me safe.  Mayors Against Illegal Guns had paid for private security for the bus.  I wasn't the only one who was worried, denizens.

There were prayers and politicians and personal stories.  It was preaching to the choir, energizing the base, finding support among those who care... and then Neil Heslin stepped to the podium.  His son, Jesse Lewis, would have turned 7 this month, if a damaged young man had not shot up his school, killing him and 19 other innocent children... like Christina.... who never got a cell phone, or an email account.... phrases I had used in my speech which Mr. Heslin repeated, haltingly, in his.

So much that will never happen.  I had no intention of adding to his burden by listing more that he had lost, but life is like that when you mourn a child.  Jesse's dad stood there, empty, hollow, bereft and broken.  He spoke in short bursts, as if reminding himself of what had happened and why he was standing in Tucson on a Friday night of Fourth of July weekend.  He should have been celebrating Jesse's first week of summer vacation.  Instead, he was riding a bus, listening to the reading of the names of the 6000-plus Americans who have died as a result of gun violence since he lost his son on December 14... six months ago..... more than 6000 lives... it's impossible for me to believe it is true, though I have the limp to prove it.

TBG took me home and showed me The Music Man and the rest of the weekend passed in a hot, gardening and perspiring, haze.  I wore red white and blue whenever possible.  We had pizza and gelato with Fast Eddie and Janny Lou, home at last from their travels to family.  I have a plan for attacking the mess that is my desk and I'm looking forward to receiving my refurbished-by-the-world's-best-Brother computer tower tomorrow.  I've stretched and I've read the comics and swept the courtyard and the sad just won't go away.

Parents shouldn't have to bury a child.  It's just not right.


  1. I'm proud of you for standing there with the No More Names group. The whole thing is so utterly heartbreaking. Neil is a broken man. It's so hard to watch and hear him speak. My heart just aches for him; not that it doesn't ache for everyone else who have lost loved ones to violence, but Jesse was Neil's world. He just seems like a shell now and so lost. :(

    I just cannot fathom that we have over 6000 deaths from guns since Newtown. If this a virus, we would be treating it like a plague and doing our best to eradicate it. Instead, we have politicians and idiotic gun groups that prevent us from treating this scourge. I'm just so sickened by it.

    Glad you were able to enjoy your weekend too. It was so hot here too that we just relaxed inside and caught up Eureka! We've been watching that as a family and even the kids are hooked. It's been fun chatting about it and wondering where the story is going.

    Have a good Monday.

    Megan xxx

  2. Currently the TdF is in the Pyrenees. The Alps stages are still to come. There will be a stage on the dreaded Mount Ventoux. The scenery in the Alps will be spectacular. They paint the sheep there in team colors. Keep watching! Can Froome hold on to the yellow jersey given that his team has been blown up? Will Contador find his form and return to his explosive style of climbing? Only time will tell.
    Thank you for speaking on the No More Names bus. That took courage and I salute you for it.

    1. Mont Ventoux.... the moonscape! Froome... riding as his team falls down. Painted sheep and castles and giant flags. I am a TdF junkie!


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