My parents were visiting my uncle in Paris when Columbine happened. It was ’98, I was 7 or 8 years old. My mom told me later on that she had felt dazed all day, foggy, unable to process a muted sense of shared grief that didn’t seem to affect her surroundings. She ran into an American in the Metro. They hugged. At the time, it was a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. At the time. Now it’s merely the first line of a chapter.
Yesterday morning, I watched one of my closest friends marry the love of her life in a sweet and intimate ceremony in Seattle. She arranged it so that I could Skype into the ceremony to watch, and a kind friend held up her phone for me so that I could view the moment my friend became someone’s wife. I wasn’t expecting to (stoic that I am) but I cried my makeup off. I often tell my friend jokingly that her relationship is disgusting, because of how obviously and totally in love they are. She still gets stars in her eyes when she talks about her (so weird to finally say it!) wife. Everyone deserves to feel loved like this once in their life- the kind of sincere, enduring love that rejects irony or cynicism. It really is nauseating. Inshallah, we should all be so lucky.
Last night, I went to bed after reading the news that 20 people in Miami were gunned down in cold blood. I woke up to the news that the body count had reached 50, with 54 wounded. It is the deadliest mass shooting in history… so far. He had purchased the guns one week previously. Legally.
I am from a country where bathrooms are a matter of national conversation, but guns are not. I am from a country where we will shake our sabers and mourn and then continue, after a short while, business as usual. We will have a yelling match, attempting to boil down the problem to one or two complicated issues, and we will feel thwarted by our own frustrations and inability to solve something that only happens here. The status quo will begin to feel comfortable again.
I tease my friend for the happiness that she has found, but in truth, her marriage was a revolutionary act of love.
Celebration is a communal event. I am grateful that my friend made the earth move so that I could be a part of her happiness and see that joy. I am grateful beyond words that I will get to be a part of that happiness into the future.
Mourning is also a communal event. I am riding the train to work, reading these headlines with an ache. I wish there was an American on this train that I could hug.