Monday, July 23, 2012

To be loved

Just like many of you out there, I too sat glued watching the unfolding horrors in Colorado. My life seemingly stopped moving forward. I was incapable of doing anything else but watch story after shocking/heartbreaking story. My Friday slipped away into the past, and I went to bed with a heavy, heavy heart.

Saturday threatened to be swallowed up by more endless channel flipping, but for one light: a book signing for my friend Beth Kephart at my beloved Chester County Book and Music Company. Beth was launching her fourteenth book, SMALL DAMAGES, which received incredible and well deserved praise from the New York Times book review. 

Beth is one of those rare modest geniuses who walk into your life, instantly making you feel welcomed and accepted – like she wouldn’t change a thing about you. I wasn’t kidding about “but for one light.” Beth’s beauty radiates from within. So brightly.

She eloquently expressed her feelings on the Aurora tragedy in her remarks behind the podium and shared a magnificent part from SMALL DAMAGES that she’d hand selected, pausing as she read, and telling the audience, “This part is for all of us.”

Next to me sat another human being I adore, A. S. King (Amy). Like Beth, she too has the magical gift of showering people with instant acceptance. The woman also happens to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Read about the first time I met her, HERE. You’ll see. And behind us sat the ever-lovely Joanne Fritz, bookseller and friend extraordinaire.

As Beth continued with her presentation, her gentle voice echoing through the gloriously cavernous bookstore, my heart lightened. Just a bit. I was surrounded by books and friends. Is there a better place for an author to be?

An impromptu lunch followed with Beth and Amy, where we talked and shared stories, plotted future get togethers and most importantly, laughed. We laughed so hard at times that mouths had to be covered, the table top pounded. And it felt so good.

I laid in bed that night unable to shake the thought, that if by chance or fate, the man who had senselessly stolen the lives of twelve and ruined the lives of countless others, if he had known someone like a Beth Kephart, A. S. King or Joanne Fritz—and by known I mean as a friend—would he have felt as alone, as evil? Of course I’ll never know the answer. But deep down I leaned towards “no.” Human beings, mentally ill or not, just want to be validated. To be loved. Seen. Heard. To feel as if they matter to others. Even strangers.

Somewhere along the way the shooter lost his connection to humanity, for reasons yet uncovered. While blame is sure to be tossed here and there, I certainly am throwing blame nowhere. I wouldn’t dare. What I can’t stop doing, however, is return to the thought: we must see the invisible people in our lives.

As I did in my speech during the launch event for CRACKED, I end this blog post with a challenge, this time in honor of those lives lost and affected in Aurora. In the midst of living your life—whether it’s in school, at work, with your family, or just out in the world—truly look for the invisible people, the people who fade into the woodwork, the lost, the depressed, the people no one speaks to or interacts with—see them, treat them with dignity, respect, basic human kindness.

Those are the moments that power the human spirit.

When one of us looks into the eyes of a another and proceeds to show compassion, it squashes the evil, pounding into a weak dust only to blow away on the breath of a compliment or a, “How are you doing today?”

Kindness matters.

My heart and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy.


PS Normally I'd pepper this post with hyperlinks and cover photos, but it just didn't feel right.