Friday, September 18, 2015

It Was One of Those Days, Redux

Mark Kelly sent me an email this morning.  He recounted his story of Gabby's shooting, and then asked me to share mine.
As Gabby and I travel the country, one of the things that amazes me most is just how many people know someone who has been shot. Our stories are very powerful tools in the effort to change our gun laws.
So, I clicked over to the form and I wrote about watching Gabby slide down the flags and about three bullets piercing my body and about holding the hand of a dying child on a sunny Saturday morning in front of a neighborhood grocery store.  I wrote about still learning to walk, nigh on to 5 years later.  I wrote about being afraid of public spaces, about being unable to enter a first run movie theater, about how the world is now, for me,  a scary place most of the time.

I read the rest of my emails, checked in on Facebook, and called Comcast.  The details are uninteresting; I knew we needed a new cable box and I wanted to schedule an appointment.  After 3 tries... three disconnections..... I got through to a live human who insisted on pinging and connecting and demanded serial numbers and I firmly repeated that it was unnecessary, that I needed a new box, and would he schedule it.

He hung up on me.

Seriously.  He put me on hold and then I heard a dial tone.  He never called back.

I, a woman on a mission by this point, called a fourth time, hear Sarah's voice at the other end, and began my spiel again.  At the end she said, "I'm sorry.  Certainly we can do that.  Let me put you on hold and find an available time slot."  

I smiled.  She came back to be sure I was still waiting, and then offered me tomorrow at any 2 hour time slot I wanted.  I asked TBG which one he wanted, and all hell broke loose.

I had attitude.  I was assuming he'd be available.  What was with my face?

I told Sarah I'd be home at 1pm, and quickly patched over our argument.  We have been together long enough to know that pettiness is just that.  I apologized for my face and my attitude (if he felt it it must have been there, right?) and went off to the elementary schoolers who hug me and call me Granny.  I'm smart enough to know that they are the best antidote when my heart is sore.

We walked around the soon to be lined path, and I told a new girl all about getting shot, and losing Christina-Taylor, who was just the same age as you are, as one of our co-walkers reminded us, and we talked about recovery and strength and the power of friendship and love to get you through the day.

Several of the older kids remonstrated with their greedier friends, those who wanted a specific sticker.  Do we get to choose?  NO! Why? Because (cue Mick Jagger) You can't always get what you want.  Everyone laughs, the kids because they remembered the song I taught them, the grown ups because they get the joke.

More errands and lunch and I was still nursing an ache in my heart.  TBG and I were fine, but I felt bruised. Then JannyLou called.   She'd received an email from Mark Kelly that morning..... and as she spoke about that same email I'd read and responded to eight hours ago my tears fell and my heart ache exploded.

The bitch was back, in both of our souls, and we were peeved.  We agreed that PTSD was biting us, once again, in the ass, when we least expected it.

Mark sends us emails all the time.  We're on the Americans for Responsible Solutions mailing list. We read them, sometimes we send money, we always think of Gabby, and we move on.  This happens several times a week.  We've never been put into such a tailspin before.  It must have been that first, bold, click here line, a line we remembered verbatim:
At some point in your relationship with ARS, you indicated that your life was also touched by gun violence. I'd love to hear your story. Share it here.
And I did and I thought I put it away but it fell all over TBG first and me for the rest of the afternoon until I figured it out.

Don't let anyone tell you that PTSD isn't real.  It is infuriatingly real.  There are strategies to cope, and many of them work quite well.  But recognition is necessary before the healing can begin.  Who knew that a request to share what I've shared so often before would set me off?

Not I, that's for sure.


  1. I'm sending a virtual hug since I'm not there in person. I'm sure you put the memory in a compartment in your brain and having to bring it out, is extremely painful. It's like you are having to live it over again--just by writing it out. That's the part the gun lobby doesn't want people to know about; the people left behind who have to pick-up the pieces of their lives that are shattered by gun violence. Besides being physically perforated, your heart is broken into a million little pieces. There are physical as well as emotional scars. Having to dredge them up is not something I wish on anyone. There is no way though for us to fight the evil of gun violence if we do not show the aftermath of the violence. How it affects so many people's lives

    I hope you are able to put it back in that compartment in your mind and heart and not have to continuously bring it back to the forefront.

    Megan xxx

    1. The door becomes less likely to spring open without warning as time passes, Megan. Still, as TBG says, PTSD is "the gift that keeps on giving." UGH.


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