At the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend it was time, once again, to return the college sophomore to her tiny room with her bed up in the sky. She was armed with apple cider and a fresh supply of bagels to get her through the last week of classes and finals. Traffic was predictably lousy, with the marauding hordes darting in and out of bumper to bumper traffic in an effort to return to wherever they came from in the first place. After lugging the clean laundry, laptop and homework back to the third floor, we said a quick goodbye and got back in the car to go home again, half-giddy that our ETA was a very respectable 10 pm.
As we made the last turn and followed the curve to the house, we saw police lights. Two cars. "Uh oh," I said. "Someone got nabbed." But two cars seemed unusual, and as we drove past, we noticed there was no car pulled over and no tickets being written. And then we saw the yellow tape in front of the grey house at the end of our block. And then we got very quiet.
First there was wonder, and then there was worry. Was there a robbery? Maybe. It was a holiday weekend, and with people out of town, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. Was there a fire? Didn't seem to be. Was there other mayhem or mischief? It was hard to tell. Did the Internet know anything? I checked periodically and couldn't find any answers, which made us wonder and worry even more. From my bedroom I could see one of the police cruisers, and I ended up falling asleep with visions of flashing blue and red lights that continued long past midnight.
In the morning, they were gone. The Internet had no information to share. With an absence of any clues, I did what I do every Monday: I hauled myself into work and kind of forgot about the whole thing. It wasn't until late morning that I happened to see a post from the local news station full of words you never want to see: murder... suicide... married... elderly... failing health... in my city, on my street, down my block.
I was left with shock, an overwhelming sadness for people I didn't know, and a tangle of thoughts and emotions. Was it noble? Was it selfish? Was it brave? Was it compassionate? Was it anguished? Was it peaceful? Was it madness? Was it rational? Were there no alternatives? All my words seemed to be followed by question marks. Even my own feelings were conflicted. Scared. Angry. Sad. Unsettled.
Tonight there are no answers, no morals to the story, and no neat conclusions. Never has the thought of asking for a "peace that passes all understanding" seemed so important, because there is no understanding and there is no peace. Yesterday voices were silenced, and in its aftermath, I can find nothing to say.