We all came to her house. The sight of dried blood stains unavoidable on the street where she bled out and died. Where they all bled out and died.
So many tears.
We, her sisters and brother stayed in her now silent home. All around reminders of the vibrant life so recently lived.
Her garden gloves on the back step. The clearing in the blackberry patch. The unopened bag of potatoes in the pantry. The welcoming colors of the newly planted driftwood and rock flower garden at the front door.
We slept in the beds, ate her food, looked at the carefully selected artwork on the walls, fingered the books and art supplies.
Gathered around the kitchen table, “Whose jacket is this?” The brown leather jacket hung on the chair, its back to the door to the garage. An innocent question.
But it did not belong to any of us. Certainly it was not hers. Reaching into the left pocket. A crumpled receipt. On it, the name of the gun shop, the description of the pistol grip shotgun, the date and the price; bought the night of the shooting.
Anger erupts, fear palpable in handling the jacket, holding the receipt as though the killer could reappear in sweaty desperation, molecules reforming to engulf us.
What’s this? In the other pocket, an unopened, undelivered Hallmark card.
A cute puppy on the front. Inside, the pleading of a grief-stricken soul. “I made a terrible mistake. Forgive me. I am so sorry. Come back to me. We will make the life together we had planned. Do not tell my mother what I did. It was the drugs. My back hurt. I lost my job. Do not tell my mother. It would kill her.”
On one side, an apology.
On the other, a gun.
What influenced the decision? What compelled him to take my sister’s life, the life of my niece, his fiancée; and in the end, his own? What made him choose the gun over the words of love in the card?
A clue is in the words of our then president. Words that resound in my head louder and louder as the years pass.
”We’re gonna shoot first and ask questions later.”
It is not so simple. We all grew up seeing, hearing, re-enacting the legends of the West.
Is this the culture in which we want to raise our children?
Can we change this aspect of our culture? Do we really want to?
“Go ahead. Make my day.”
Doris Jean Lombard