Grieve in your own way. Not judging anyone.
But I won’t be wearing blue today in honor of the 12 victims of Friday’s mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Unless I happen to be wearing that color, that is. I have a lot of it in my closet.
I won’t be putting one of those city seals with the black ribbon on my Facebook page, either.
And I won’t be adding a #VirginiaBeachStrong to anything I write.
Those gestures seem empty to me. If they give you comfort, by all means, please make them.
Virginia Beach has been my home since 1984. I love this place. That will have to be enough.
I’m a Christian, so I’m praying for the souls of the departed and for their families and loved ones.
Their grief is unfathomable.
I went to mass at St. Gregory the Great on Sunday evening. Below the altar were 12 vases with 12 white roses and votive candles. One for every person killed on Friday. Among the dead is Katherine Nixon, a St. Gregory’s parishioner and Sunday school teacher.
A quiet sense of sorrow seemed to settle over the pews.
Four more victims are in critical condition in Virginia Beach and Norfolk hospitals. Let them fully recover. Please.
Whenever I pass a car wreck I think about the people who set out that morning in anticipation of an uneventful day and who either died on the spot or who may have suffered life-changing injuries.
Likewise, I ponder the city workers who headed to work on Friday thinking it was just one more day in a long life. A dozen didn’t live to see the sun set. The survivors lived through hell.
I was out of town on Friday and my phone blew up that afternoon from friends alerting me to the shootings and checking to see if my family was all right.
Meanwhile, my daughter was listening to the Beach police scanner, relaying the horror by text message.
So I numbly observed the massacre and the chaotic aftermath from a distance. I saw our mayor, police chief and various city council members on national news trying to stay composed while attempting to make sense of a senseless tragedy. They represented us well.
Right on cue, of course, opportunistic ghouls materialized on social media, capitalizing on the shootings to advance their political agendas.
Stop. Take a breath. Think before spouting stupid things, I thought.
I’m taking my own advice today.
All I will say now is that Virginia Beach is my beloved home. And I am profoundly sad.