Gun Violence, Hats and Gloves

A while back, I lost a friend in a mass shooting (his name is too sacred to write here). He had a natural beauty that reminded me of a merman. His eyes sparkled like the moon hitting water, his hair smelled like ocean and his smile was a religious experience. His soul was pure and he was a member of my chosen family.

I first met him when he was just a kid around the age of seven. He was the nephew of a good friend and tagged along with us often. We shared many candy bars when he was younger, cups of coffee when he was older and a constant barrage of laughs regardless of his age. One of the greatest honors of my life was to be able to watch him grow from a fantastic kid to an amazing young man.

After the shooting when they found his body, it was reported that he had died as he was trying to shield his friend from the bullets. For those of us who knew him, this was not a surprise. He lived his life selflessly and in service to others.

I call his mom at least once a month. The majority of the call is a mixture of us laughing with the joy of having known him and tears because of the senselessness of his death. These calls will continue until one of us is no longer on this planet. Keeping his memory alive is an act of self compassion for both of us.

Each time there is a mass shooting, I re-experience the pain of his death. From a psychological perspective, I recognize the secondary trauma and the complicated grief that I struggle with (and that I continue to work on). My response(s) are generally reading and rereading new stories about the shooting(s), perusing the academic literature about gun laws in other countries and evoking discussion on Facebook with the hope that someone will bring forth a solution that will stop the problem.

At this point, I believe that the best bet to curb gun violence is banning the majority of all guns and those that are not banned are highly regulated. It has worked for other countries (Japan and Australia) and at this point, I think it would work for us.

The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting undoubtedly triggered me. Like other shootings, it took a couple of days to center myself and get back on track. A healing aspect of the shooting has been being able to see the young people speak truth to power and hold politicians responsible for their actions. Their ability to initiate change gives me hope.  I know my friend had that same passion and would have been part of the movement if he had survived the shooting.  There is something special about those young survivors. They evoke hope for me. I appreciate and love them very much.

Recent knitting has been therapeutic and calming. I have knitted two hats and a pair of gloves (which I will post a picture of later). The yarn is Noro.

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