A week ago Sunday I was out shopping at one of my favorite stores. I didn’t have any kids with me and I was immensely enjoying the much-needed time alone. Then I received a text from my husband. Someone had been shot execution-style in downtown Petaluma. My shopping trip was immediately robbed of joy as fear flooded through my entire body, “don’t take the kids outside” I responded.
Upon returning home I learned the truth about what had happened downtown. That it wasn’t a rogue gunman shooting down random passersby but rather a woman gunned down at the hands of her estranged husband.
As the news continued to unfold and reveal more and more about this Petaluma woman and her family, it was hard not to feel anything but heartbroken. Just thinking about the four young children without a mother, and two without a father, was devastating. I won’t lie, that night I hugged my babies really tight.
I have a tendency when learning about something tragic that happens in our community or to people I know, to get consumed by it. It becomes all I think about when I’m standing still. I have found myself reading and re-reading news articles, comments from other readers, and scrolling through Facebook posts about the people involved. I’m never sure if I have a sort of morbid curiosity or simply a desire to understand why bad things happen to good people and how people deal with difficult situations.
What was so beautiful to witness over the past week and a half has been the outpouring of support I have seen our town give the family of the slain teacher, Kim Baucom. In what seemed like minutes an education trust was established, restaurants stepped up to do Dine and Donate events for the children, and downtown businesses offered percentages of sales to go toward the trust.
Instead of stewing over what had happened, people, like myself, who did not personally know Kim Baucom, were given an opportunity to contribute and feel helpful in some way. We were able to send in money, put a few bucks into a tin on a cashier’s counter, or participate with the businesses giving donations. It certainly won’t bring their mother back, and is miniscule in the grand scheme, but it felt good to help.
As the week carried on so did life for my family and me. I decided to shut off the media and focus on my family. I have started running again and Saturday’s run had me feeling strong and happy in my body as I moved. My mind had constantly been on the families of those involved in the shooting and my many friends who knew them. It was a welcome feeling to feel happiness when the week had been shrouded in a cloud of anything but. Ultimately, I had to remember that this tragedy did not happen to me. I was reminded that it wasn’t good for me to get overly absorbed in anything that takes me out of being present for my life and what I have to get done for my family.
Our community is one that I am extremely grateful to be a member of. I look forward to making my little floats for the children’s parade for Butter & Eggs Day and taking a few moments to celebrate the special place we live and honoring those that have lived here long before me.
Today I made banana bread for my children, read stories with them, colored a note in my three-and-a-half year old daughter’s journal, nursed and held my youngest daughter, danced with my two-year old, expressed my gratitude to have someone’s friendship, ate dinner with my husband, bathed my girls with the monkey washcloth, squeezed them tight and put them to bed, drank a cup of tea, and watched a favorite show before bed.
I have been told and taught to believe that God uses everything. In the face of someone else’s tragedy I have been launched into even more gratitude for my life and those people in it. Once again, I hate that tragedy got me into gratitude but I will take it, because it is such a nicer place to be.