I know people who knew one of the people who the alleged shooter killed.
I know people who had dealings with the alleged shooter.
I wonder how I'd deal directly with such connections. I can only hope I won't have to; I can hope I'm empathetic enough to be there for said friends who might have trouble dealing with those connections. (Even though I was nowhere near the mall at the time -- I live a few miles from it, and at 3:30 yesterday I was west of the Willamette River headed from my job to the downtown library, all even farther from Clackamas -- it all still feels a bit like a close call. Enough that I made sure to post to Facebook and email my folks to say "I'm absolutely fine and nowhere near where this happened" -- and also felt relieved, if a little weird, about the "Glad you're OK" messages people were nice enough to send. For what it's worth, thank you.)
There's a thing I do: sometimes when I hold the door for someone, I'll look in and out of what we're about to enter and say fake-urgently, "It's okay, it looks safe." It makes life, briefly, more dramatic, in a way that often makes me and others smile. That went through my head this afternoon as I held the door so someone could enter Lloyd Center, another of my region's malls. Yeah, I realized doing that would be in bad taste. Probably already was when I was doing it, before a place I know got hit by gun violence.
I'm flashing back to the violation I felt in 2002 when the D.C. sniper was killing and hurting people -- again, in places I knew.
I'm wondering if I'd recognize the sound of a gunshot -- the way it really sounds, not the ways it sounds in movies and TV.
I'm wondering if I'd get away from such an attack in time, or whether I'd help others get away and to safety, in the (still, still, STILL) unlikely event that it happens near me.
As often happens when I'm confronted with difficult possibilities, I do my best to be honest and admit: I don't know. But I appreciate the thoughts Bobby Roberts has blogged, "On Purchasing Murders."