Slowly she told me what happened. A Vietnam vet who suffered from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) was undergoing therapy with a group for which her granddaughter was a therapist. He wasn't winning in therapy (euphemistically speaking). Angry at his therapists for what he perceived as their failure, he showed up at a meeting dressed in black military fatigues and body armor, carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. He took her granddaughter and two other therapists hostage. He subsequently shot and killed all three of them, then shot himself dead.
I opened my mouth to say something. No, it was an automatic robotic reaction: my mouth opened by itself to say something. So I shut it again. This was the time to ... just ... listen. My ego did want to say something smart. But my being calmly said "No, don't: just ... listen ...".
The hurt, the shock, the anguish, the horror, the loss, the wrenching, the disbelief, the pain, the government, the N ... R ... A, the gun lobby. I wanted so much to make it all better, to make it all go away. Yet I managed to keep my tongue still (Boy! it was hard ...) and just listened.
She cried intermittently, off and on - but not like she was sobbing: rather it was like she was gasping for air. She was (quite literally) drowning in the tragedy of what had happened. I didn't have a kleenex so I passed her a paper napkin from a rack on the table. She dabbed her eyes with it, threw her head back, and groaned softly, coming to terms with (I surmised) something which no human being should ever have to come to terms with. I had my own questions for her. I even had some answers to her questions (or so I thought). Yet somehow I kept the proverbial sock firmly in place, and just kept on listening, listening, listening - for je ne sais quoi.
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