(This post will be completely off the topics of infertility and parenting. . . feel free to skip.)
Living in America these days, it is impossible to avoid news stories about gun violence. Whether it's a random drive-by shooting, or a mass murder like December's school shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, gun violence is something we all hear about on a daily basis.
For me, as I think is true for most people, these events are generally experienced from a distance. So although we may be emotionally affected by them, seldom are we personally affected.
That changed for me this week.
Wednesday morning, my office building was put on "lockdown" by security. We were told by building management that the lockdown was due to reports on an armed gunman on the loose in the area. Truth be told, I live in a large enough metropolitan area that I initially found the situation more of an odd inconvenience than anything else. No one was allowed in or out of the building, so I couldn't go out for lunch. Not for a moment did I fear for my safety.
Shortly thereafter, coworkers mentioned news reports of a shooting at an office building five or six miles away, with an unknown number of people injured. My attention was piqued when I heard the location of the shooting and saw the news footage: the building was on the same block as my old firm's offices. I literally looked at the building every day out my office window.
Still, the location was no more than a point of interest for me in what would've otherwise been, sadly, a somewhat commonplace story. A suspect shot three people and fled the scene. Motive currently unknown. Identities of the victims and of the shooter not being reported at this time.
Just after lunch, as I walked to the kitchen to refill my water cup, I received a message via Fa.ceb.ook messenger that one of the shooting victims was a friend of mine. A friend who was in my law school class. Another lawyer who worked in the firm that has its offices on the three floors just above my firm's offices.
The story has been all over the national news, so I won't recount it here. Suffice it to say, an angry man with a gun chose to end two lives--three, if you include the fact that he later took his own life as well--over a dispute involving less than $50,000. In an instant, this armed hothead cut short my friend's life. A life that should have been long and productive instead was ended by bullets at the age of 43.
My friend was a brilliant lawyer who had already received many accolades in just the first several years of his legal career, but he was more than that. He was a devoted husband to a wonderful woman. They had been married for nearly twenty years, together longer. He was a loving father to two children. His daughter was born during our second year of law school and will be 10 in May. His son will turn 8 next week. Before he was ever a lawyer, my friend was a hiker, and a swimmer, and rode a unicycle. He wore Birkenstocks and cut-off khakis to class. He was kind and open and generous and goofy and fun.
I still can't believe he's gone.