On the morning of 08.01, I awoke from a frightening nightmare that was about to come true. I dreamed I was in a public space, not a school, however, as is often the setting for my dreams. But a place where there were children and adults. Not sure what they were doing but all of a sudden a man appeared and began stabbing all of the people there. The nightmare was so violent that it woke me up. And haunted me the rest of the day. When I went to sleep the following night, I was afraid the nightmare would return but it didn’t.
Until: Nightmare Becomes Reality
It didn’t return in the form of a nightmare. Instead it became a reality when a mass shooting occurred in a central El Paso Walmart.
It has now been a week and a half since that horrific shooting. The city and her citizens are beginning to pick up the pieces of their shaken lives and working toward putting their world back together again. #ElPasoStrong and #ElPaSOSTRONG has appeared on billboards and marquees all over town. People are sporting the slogan on tee shirts; I picked up mine yesterday. A temporary memorial has been created by mourners visiting the site of the shooting. Tonight a number of memorial services were held across the city. But sadly, 50+ mph winds brought the tributes to an untimely end. And a storm moved into the area dropping rain like tears from the heavens.
Thankful Thursday, 08.2019
In the days since the shooting, I have felt all of the emotions. Shock. Fear. Sadness. Anger. And an overarching numbness that masks all the feelings at times. But I have also been thankful.
Here are some of the things I am thankful for.
Thankful to live in a city where:
- the day after the shooting, an 11 year-old named Ruben Martinez came up with the idea of challenging every citizen in El Paso to do 22 good deeds in honor of the victims. #elpasoCHALLENGE
- citizens have come together to remember the victims and their families in a makeshift memorial at the site of the tragedy.
- an #ElPasoStrong mural appeared, almost overnight, in the central neighborhood, painted by local artist Gabe Vasquez.
- billboards have popped up all over the city with messages of support.
- the Texas Department of Transportation, TxDOT used their digital signs to bolster the community.
- over 300 people stood in triple digit heat for several hours in an almost immediate response to the call for blood donors.
- hundreds attended the funeral Friday of one of the victims, Margie Reckard, whose “husband (Antonio Basco) was worried the funeral and visitation would be empty since she was his only living relative.” [source]
- a few young El Pasoans (including the brother of a dear friend) rallied around Mr. Basco and helped to repair his vehicle. The same vehicle he has lived out of, parked at the makeshift memorial, since he lost his wife. You can help, too, by donating here.
- funeral homes around the city have offered their services free of charge to the victims’ families.
- people feel this way about one another: “Someone asked me if I knew any of the people killed at WalMart. I said I knew them all: they were my neighbors, my friends, people I went to church with, people I saw at Village Inn, people in the doctor’s office, kids on the playground, people in the grocery store, people at Dunkin Doughnuts, people I went to school with, my mailman, they were El Pasoans. They were El Paso. I knew them all.” [source]
- the community has come together to raise over $4.7 million dollars in less than 2 weeks for the victims and their families.
- the local TV channels have joined forces for a telethon to raise money for those injured and the families who lost loved ones.
The Day After and Beyond
PC and I debated whether to go to church the day after the Saturday shooting. We awoke to the news that there had been another shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which is just miles from my in-laws’ home in Tipp City. We were certain that we would be safe but there was still that haunting feeling. Our church has a large congregation and a beautiful new campus on the west side of town. Sadly, it would be a prime target for…you-know-what. I don’t even want to say it.
But we chose faith over fear. And the message that day was a blessing. A reminder that above all else we need to guard our hearts in times like these. Difficult moments bring our lives to a cross roads where we have a choice to make – to run to God or runaway from God. These are the times when the enemy tries to take advantage of our vulnerability. So it is vital that we pray more, look to God to light our way, to be our stand up and recovery.
I am thankful we went to church that day and the following Sunday. And grateful for the messages on both days.
1,000 Cranes of Peace
When I visited the memorial, I was moved by all of the messages of love, peace, healing and remembrance left along a fence between the back of the Walmart store and the road. Hundreds of candles, posters, flowers. But one poster in particular spoke to me. It was one surrounded by 500 Origami paper cranes, inviting the people of El Paso to make cranes to bring the total to 1,000. I was reminded of a children’s story I love and loved to teach, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. A thousand paper cranes are believed to bring healing and peace.
PC and I each made a crane following the great directions on this step-by-step video.
And then we took our cranes to the memorial and hung them with the others left in memory of the shooting victims.
Our cranes don’t look nearly as polished as the ones left originally but they were made with love. You can see Walmart through the fence.
From the day we first drove into El Paso in November, 1988, I felt I had come home. The mountains, the people, the blended cultures and languages. I loved this city from that very first day. Today the last victim of the 08.03.2019 shooting was buried. Margie Reckard leaves behind a husband, Antonio Basco, but no other family. This evening over 700 El Pasoans met to honor Margie, even though they didn’t know her in life. And that sums up what I love most about this city. Its huge heart.
We are beginning to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off but there’s still much healing to be done. Together, we will overcome.
What were you grateful for this week? Won’t you share in a comment below or link up your gratitude post with my friend Rebecca Jo at Knit by God’s Hand. Hoping you will keep my city in your thoughts and prayers as the healing begins. And the Dayton community, too. I hope we can pay our respects there next week while we are in Ohio. And please join me and much of my city in doing 22 random acts of kindness, one for each of the victims.
We are off to Kentucky-Ohio-Tennessee to see our families and then attend my niece Shelby’s wedding in Knoxville. Will be MIA most of the week but hope to be able to duck in for a quick post or two. Enjoy your weekend, sweet, sweet friends.
Hugs and kisses,