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Friday, July 20, 2012

Tragic, Horrific, Creepy - Final Destination?

We live in a society plagued by gun crime and the tragedy that goes along with it. We all remember Columbine; most of us will likely have used and have certainly heard the expression "Going Postal" which derives from a series of gun related incidents. There are those who suggest if we all had guns these things would not happen - I heard it on the radio today - I disagree and feel if we simply stopped making them for the "market place" and restricted them to military and law enforcement we would be better off [I am a Brit and used to even the cops not being armed as a matter of course]. However this is not a discussion of the pros and cons of guns - that is a discussion for another time.

On June 2nd there was a shooting incident at the Eaton Center Mall in Toronto. A gunman opened fire in the mall; one victim was instantly killed, a second died a couple of days later. The "suspect" awaits trial on murder charges. A tragic and horrific event but likely one that many have not heard of; it is distant and not of sufficient magnitude to "cover the airwaves".

Jessica Redfield was a young sports broadcaster and blogger from Texas. By all accounts she was a charismatic individual described by her brother Justin this way:

"She conveyed passion and inspired people to do great things. … She wanted to help, and that's the type of heart she had. That's the type of person she was."

On June 2nd fate placed Jessica and the Eaton Center on a collision course. Jessica was not hurt physically though I am sure anyone close to tragedy must have their perspective on things altered in some way. I hope I never find out whether that is true or not. In a haunting blog post titled "Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting" Jessica shared a little of her experience.

"I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting."

Jessica was in the mall seeking out Sushi but then she changed her mind:

"I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found."

Jessica ends her thoughts with this:

"I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.

Most of us will have seen one or more of the movies of "Final Destination" movie franchise. The movies are themed around the premise that when it is your time it is your time. If you escape that escape will only be temporary. The movies always start with one character having some sort of vision of imminent disaster; as a result they and a small group of friends or colleagues escape their pre-destined demise. However the reaper is not done with them and the movie plays out the theme that their death was only delayed, that their fate is simply inescapable.

Jessica does not profess to have had a vision; she does however talk of an uncomfortable feeling, a feeling that caused her to go outside, to change her plan and as result of that plan she was somewhere else, out of harm's way when the gunman struck. Creepy and very reminiscent of the opening act in the movies.

Move the timeline to yesterday. The horrific, sickening and tragic events in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater; a theater only about 15 miles from Columbine. No chance of anyone not hearing of this monstrous act with 12 dead and dozens injured. And yes; young Jessica Redfield was one of the victims. That a person should experience one such event in their life is awful; two is just insane, tragic - there really are not the words. Read Jessica's words again; think about her story. It is tragic, a waste of a young life, a trauma that will forever haunt those left behind - at the same time Jessica's story is a little chilling, just a tad creepy.

My deepest sympathies go to the victims and their families, to those who had to deal with the aftermath, to the workers who will likely have nightmares and may struggle to go back to work at the scene of such devastation. I am not a particularly feeling man [my wife would attest to that] but I even feel for the family of the gunman. How would one handle the fact that a family member could do this. I have no children so I cannot imagine the loss of a child; for the gunman's parents to lose a child to life in prison because he commited such a heinous act of barbarism - perhaps that might be worse that losing a child to death itself.

So - to everyone impacted in any way by this awful and disturbing incident - I feel deep sorrow for what happened and I hope that somehow you eventually find the strength to make peace with what has happened and, no doubt sometime in the future, find a way to make a return to at least an approximation of a normal life.

To the gunman; I hope you rot in hell - if ever there was a case for the death penalty this is it; there should no excuses, no "he had a hard childhood", no "he was disturbed" or "he did not know what he was doing" - others suffer such things and choose not to turn into animals - frankly such an animal does not deserve to be on the face of this planet.


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