So sometime before noon, I got a call from family in New York, asking if I was okay, because there’d been a shooting at a Tucson supermarket. At first I kind of laughed, “Yeah, right, because all of us shop at the same grocery store here.” But as the conversation went on, at some point I said, “Wait, stop, what? Someone shot Gabrielle Giffords?”
Much of the rest of the day has been spent following updates on various news sites.
So here’s the thing. Tucson is a small town grown large. Our congresspeople are not distant figures. The places you’re hearing about in the news today are not distant places, either. I know that intersection. It’s on the other side of town–and we complain Tucson has grown large sometimes, that it takes so long to get there. But it isn’t all that large, not really.
Gabby Giffords is my congresswoman. Those are my fellow Tucsonans who shop at that Safeway. Friends of mine know Giffords, went to school with her. She’s a member of my synagogue. (A synagogue that’s already in mourning. I spent the day hoping not to get an email that began, “Blessed be her memory …”) A couple of my former Scouts posed in ads with her when they were small and she was running for state representative. A week before she was elected to her first national term, she and some staffers were sitting in the same coffeeshop I write in, hopeful and excited.
Giffords is one of ours, part of our community. I am stunned and sad and furious at the people living here who apparently don’t understand that. I’m hoping hard that she recovers, and knowing that won’t bring back those who’ve already died.
Because, yeah. There’s another friend, wondering about her school district, and a class of nine-year-olds who are going to be trying to make sense of what they hear when they return to school Monday, about the death of one of their classmates. There’s an aide to Giffords, and a federal judge, and three others, who have also died. Our people, our community.
This is a national tragedy, but it’s a local one, too.
Arizona, we’re better than this. Tucson, we’re totally better than this.
Let’s start remembering that, okay?