On November 8th, I woke up with a voicemail from my mom. It went a little like this,
"Hey, it's Momma. I'm sorry it's really early your time, but I wanted to have you hear from me before you got the news on. There was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks last night at a country bar about ten minutes from where our house was in Moorpark. There are 12 people dead, the shooter is dead, and a cop. It was college night at the bar, so anyone over 18 could go in. There were students from multiple colleges there, that's all they know so far. It's just horrible." And so on. I made it about halfway through the voicemail before I pulled out my laptop.
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. This is what is referred to as one of the safest towns in America. This town was a short drive away from my home in Moorpark. These people are mostly my age. Then, the worst one occurred to me. What if when they display the victims' pictures, I recognize a face?
According to USAToday, the Thousand Oaks shooting is the 307th shooting on the 311th day of 2018. Are we supposed to allow ourselves to be desensitized to this gun violence? I sure hope not. I'll save you the agony of listening to how the rest of my day went. Long story short, I watched the news and cried more than I'd like to admit.
As the day carried on, I watched the pictures come up on my computer screen. I scrolled through social media and looked at my friend's posts of their friends being safe. Somehow, that did not calm me down. I watched the victim's faces pop up one by one on my laptop, and I listened to the stories.
All country music lovers, all college students, all heroes who helped save the lives of others before they lost their own. It was not until Friday that I realized I did recognize one of the faces. I logged onto my Facebook to get rid of a notification, and there it was. A picture of my childhood swim coaches, and Noel Sparks. Now, I understand that it's been years, but that doesn't make it any better. Each victim of the shooting had so much more life to be lived, and my heart breaks for each one of them. I send all of my love to the family, friends, and everyone affected by the Borderline shooting.
Not even a day later, there was news of a fire that is rapidly spreading. According to CBS News, The Woolsey fire has burned 98,362 acres of land and is only about 57% contained. While this fire has only 3 confirmed fatalities, the second fire that is burning in California has taken the lives of 56 people and burned 140,000 acres of land. I can spit out as many facts as my fingers can research, but it doesn't change the fact that my heart aches for my former home. When all of this tragedy happens and I'm 1,835 miles away, I have never felt so helpless. I donated to the victim's families, but I have not found a way to make sense of this in my mind. Why do these things happen? There's no concrete answer to this question, so am I going to wonder it forever?