A Letter to my Grandfather and All Those Who Have Lost Someone in Violence

I remember that on this date, in 1991, it was your last day on earth. I remember your smile and the twinkle in your eyes. I remember your laugh. I remember hearing the distant sirens not realizing at the time that they were headed toward you. I remember that when they found you, you still had a pen in your hand.

I remember the shock and of lack of understanding. The inability to comprehend the phone call that you'd been killed? What? Who? ...What??? Like one wasn't hearing correctly.

I remember the nearly physical feeling of suddenly being cast between the known layers of time. Where regular time, present, past and future all cease and you find yourself in a space where instinct takes over.

I remember retrieving my grandmother, so fragile and innocent, and bringing her to you. She never recovered from that day, this day, and began to die herself from that day forward.

A piece of me died that day too. The shock waves of Violence and evil travel deep. They knock us down into the black from which it rose and the known path becomes lost. And all of life as we knew it remains in that space of time now defined as "before." It is packaged and sealed and is placed in a box seemingly separate and lost. The world becomes, for a time, a dark wood. Where one begs for light, but doesn't know how to find it, for all of the paths are overgrown and seem to lead one only deeper into darkness.

And I remember the feeling of joy "before" but can't seem to find it now even though it's been quite some time since someone murdered you, grandfather.

And one feels oddly connected to an invisible community of victims...those other people you read about in the newspaper; but you never signed up. You don't want to be a member.

And you live your life still feeling like you're slightly apart from the flow, separate and changed. And the optimistic joy that defined your life is inaccessible. And you go that way, day after day after day.

You smile and laugh, but you don't really. You chat about things that don't matter. You don't pity your plight. Worse, you just frankly don't care about much anymore and THAT is probably the saddest place to be...empty and without capacity for reciprocal joy.

But Grandfather, feel glad for me if you can. Know that I am OK. Know that this terrible thing has given me the greatest gift, even though I could not imagine it so many years ago, on this day. For eventually, in a most quiet yet powerful way, God presents himself to me in the form of a simple white flower; a fragile flower that appeared out of no where, that grew up in a crack in the exact middle of my expansive driveway, in the heat of July, in the middle of a drought. And when I saw that flower, I realized that despite the harshness of life and the odds of survival, even a seedling, in the midst of barely any soil, little water and intense heat, can find it's way. ..to be what it was meant to be. Even the fragile flower finds it's expression in life.

In such a moment, your heart re-starts, you gasp in recognition of what this flower represents and just as suddenly as it stopped, the WELL of hope and joy and all that you knew yourself to be is tapped. The path is illuminated and recognized.
And God has said, in an unexpected and silent way...
I'm still here.

And you weep and weep and weep...and the tears of sadness mingle with the longed for tears of pure joy. And finally you know that you will be OK even though there is still healing to be done, the healing can begin.

I love you, Papa. The journey is never easy, but when the way is found, it is rich beyond words.
Is there any wonder why I find the
Commedia to be so profound?