The shooting of 71 people in Colorado, 13 miles from Columbine, got me thinking about the things which define how we will be remembered. However we try to live our lives, random events often have the last word.
Jessica Ghawi, the lovely young woman who was killed at the theater and who had also been at Eaton Mall in Toronto immediately prior to the shooting there, may well be remembered for the twists of fate that put her near crazed gunmen twice in less than six months.
The blogosphere and twitter are already alive with the “OMG” nature of what has befallen Jessica. For that she will most likely become the most famous of the 12 who were killed and 59 who were injured.
The randomness of this event will devolve to our intense need to understand life, and Jessica has already given us a story we can work with.
I first understood this when I was 16 years old and had a summer job at the Electrolux plant in Norwalk, Connecticut. In the cafeteria, people would point out a man sitting alone and tell each other he was Kitty Genovese’s brother. They didn’t know what to say to him, but they did know how to label him.
His sister will forever be defined as the woman who was killed while New Yorker’s watched from their apartments. Mary Jo Kopechne’s life will always be narrowed to the awful night at Chappaquidick.
I am not sure what our need to do this means. Maybe it is that, as I read recently, only our certain death makes life meaningful. But our effort to make meaning out of tragedy always seems short of the mark. I can tell you for sure that the bizarre coincidence of Jessica Ghawi’s having been in two bad places at the end of her life doesn’t come close to telling her story.
For those who knew her better than we ever will, I am so sorry that she and all the others died. I know you have a treasure trove of memories that will comfort you, and I pray that the good things in all of the lives which have been taken by madmen will be cherished by those who are left behind.
For the rest of us, there is much to be learned from this. Maybe this could be the time we decide to take guns out of the hands of people who do not need them. That would be something worth being remembered for.
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Gloria. Circa 1955.
Gloria. Circa 2012.
Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.