Friday, December 21, 2018

Empty Chairs

Loss is hard. This is not news. What is news is the number of people who will be experiencing this holiday season. Families will be sitting around their tree, table, living room, hearth and know that someone is missing. Someone who used to bring the eggnog. Someone who used to sing like an angel. Someone who loved. Someone who was loved.
Sixty-eight of those spots will be unoccupied by the losses created by mass shootings here in America. Anecdotally, I should mention that not all the empty chairs this year were the result of gunfire. Six hundred thirty thousand Americans died this year from heart disease. If you're a fan of such statistics, that will be one fourth of the deaths on these shores. Why not make as much a fuss about that as I seem to do about this mass shooting thing?
I guess it has to do with the chances. Most people with heart disease have a doctor, or a room full of doctors, working to keep them alive. Treatments and medicine that can lessen the suffering and ease the pain, adding months or years to patients' lives, giving them a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. 
That's not what happened to Telemachus Orfano. He survived the attack in Las Vegas in October of 2017, only to be shot and killed in a Thousand Oaks bar a little more than a year later. This would be something along the lines of dodging an asteroid only to be eaten by a shark the following year.  The chances of being a casualty of a mass shooting are around one  in one hundred ten thousand, or  about the same chance of dying from a dog attack or legal execution. Make that a radioactive shark. Add to that probability the possibility that one might escape that scene and land a year later in front of another idiot with a gun? Make that a two-dimensional radioactive shark who traveled to that point in time via a portal generated by Captains Kirk and Picard. 
Imagine staring at that hole in the Orfano family. But better still, love and appreciate those closest to you at this time of year, since it's traditionally encouraged. Savor those moments and, heaven forbid, talk about it a little. We may know the odds, but for sixty-eight families this year, that percentage turns out to be one hundred percent. 

No comments: