20 April, 2020
Over the weekend, a man on a rampage was responsible for the deaths of at least 17 people—and there still might be others. He was dressed in a uniform designed to make him appear to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and driving a car designed to appear like an RCMP vehicle.
This man was a denturist. He made and fitted dentures. Until he didn’t.
Those known/confirmed dead include at least one RCMP officer, a twenty-three year veteran, a wife, a mother, a daughter. Two health care workers connected to the Victorian Order of Nurses and an elementary school teacher were also killed. And the shooter.
The crimes were spread over multiple sites and a range of 50 km with the final stand-off happening one exit up from the airport, in the parking lot for a gas station/restaurant 90 km away from where he began.
I was messaging with a friend this morning and in the course of our exchange she wrote— You open your door…you see what you think is an officer…and you lose your life.
You open your door… and you lose your life… I can not shake how much that is true for everyone touched by this tragedy…
In addition to thinking about the exponential numbers of people who are mourning and grieving the victims, I keep thinking about the intensity and duration of the rage within the perpetrator. And, I think too about any family, friends, colleagues, of the shooter—who may or may not have had any idea that such devastating potential within him was waiting for its catalyst.
Some of his victims opened the door to what they thought was an RCMP officer and they lost their lives. He, the shooter and some as yet unknown spark, opened the door on the rage and violence within him, and he lost his life. His family, friends, colleagues have had the door flung open on the story they thought they knew about someone and that old life, that once-believed truth, is lost. When the news came knocking at their door, whatever normal was known by families, friends, and colleagues of the 17+ victims was sadly, tragically, lost.
You open your door…and you lose your life…
One of several things this non-linear, non-logical, tragic mess has highlighted for me is how thin the line is…just the width of a threshold…between this—and saving one’s life by opening a door. Opening the door on truth or struggle, acknowledging it, letting someone in. Sharing one’s story with someone who has knocked… Also, the salvation of being the one who knocks, who asks the question, who offers to listen. You open your door…you knock on a door, and a life might be saved.
How it goes, which way it goes…loss or salvation…the line can feel quite thin…. because it feels like the sad truth is, we will not likely ever know how many people are standing on the threshold trying to decide which way to step, or trying keep their balance while fighting against seen and unseen forces. And we or someone we love might open our door after a drastic decision has been made to free the rage and the violence that could no longer be contained.
There are things that doors keep out…there are things that doors keep in. Some are beautiful; some are terrible.
May we help one another to not be so afraid of this truth that our homes, our hearts, live in shuttered half-light and darkness. May we keep vigil for each other when fear sets in and may we courageously knock from the inside when night has passed.