Be the Good, Neighbor.

Yesterday…I’ll never forget.  I woke up to my usual alarm clock, stumbled into my usual bathroom and did – well the usual – just like every other day.  Then, as I began my usual routine, I checked my phone, which to be honest, was a little unusual.  First a social media message from my husband explaining that he and his band were okay.  Then, story after story of horrific details of what can only be described as a massacre emerged.

I stopped in my tracks because my feet could no longer move.   Breathing became hard.  Tears welled up.  This is way too close.

A near miss you might say.  My husband’s band played the Route 91 Harvest Festival just 48 hours prior.

What a difference a day makes, right?

He’s in Europe now and although we’ve spoken on the phone several times, I’ll feel better when I see his face.

When he left last week, he was off to Vegas then to Europe.  I hugged him goodbye as we do most every week of the year – it was usual – but now will never be the same.

While he and so many other artists and musicians took that stage, they never dreamed that a man was on the 32nd floor, just next door, plotting to kill.

I’ve pushed back the tears, with only a few slipping through, all day as I called my husband – dressed the children – walked into work – saw my patients – called my mom – cooked dinner – folded laundry – gave the baths – and tucked the kids into bed.  But now, as I sit and write, they will flow as I share my heart.

I will offer no explanations because there are none.  I will not talk about guns or laws or politics.  There is a time and a place for this I’m sure, but to be perfectly honest I can’t even begin to go there.  And, according to my Facebook feed, we have enough opinions and scholars for the moment.  I will say, however, that today in a split second my focus changed, my priorities aligned, and, in the face of tragedy, that was way too close to home, clarity appeared.

For what was important yesterday, faded.  It was gone.  You know the small stuff – the little worries that preoccupy our minds.  Poof – like a magic trick – it was gone.  And, now the only thing that matters is people.

Who I love – and who loves me – they matter more than ever.  Do they know?  Have I told them?  Have I shown them?

My husband, my children, my parents, sisters, nieces/nephews, aunts/uncles, cousins – do they know how much I love them?

My friends who offer constant support and free counseling – do they know how much I need them?

My neighbor who walks her dog every morning – did I wave?

The girl who opened the door for me at work – did I say thank you?

The lady at the grocery store who cares enough to find my daughter a sticker no matter what – does she know how much that means to me?

The baseball coaches, the day care workers, my coworkers who constantly come to my rescue – do they know how much they help me?

And, the fans, who buy the tickets, stand in line, and put food on my table – have I ever said thank you?

You see, most people don’t know this, but my favorite thing to do at my husbands show is stand with the fans.  I like to get out there during the show.  Stand right there in the middle and just listen and watch.

There is absolutely nothing like standing in the middle of a crowd watching a show.  The songs that I’ve heard about a million times come to life.  Strangers become family in an instant and the side stage just doesn’t do it justice.  And, sometimes when the crowd begins to sing, I just want to hug them all and say thank you – well, that is unless someone has spilled beer in my shoes – that makes me mad, but nevertheless, I usually just want to hug them.  I’ve never told anybody that!

Maybe that’s why this hurts so bad.  Not only could my husband easily have been playing, but the fans that become my family through song were viciously attacked.  And, one of the things I love the most was violated for what can only be described as evil and hate.

So, as I think about all the ways this has and will continue to affect my family, clarity has spoken a few times today and here’s what she has to say…

  • Love your neighbor.  This popped in my head as quickly as I could mutter the words “why?”  Love your neighbor, love your neighbor, love your neighbor.  Your family.  Your friends.  The good ones.  The bad ones.  The strangers.  The one’s like you, and, maybe even more importantly, the one’s unlike you.  Love your neighbor.  On Facebook and Instagram. At the grocery store and the DMV.  In traffic and in your home.  In every situation…LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.
  • Stop with the small stuff.  It doesn’t matter y’all.  Most of the stuff we spend the majority of our time worrying about doesn’t matter.  Who cares if my house is spotless?  Who cares if my husband literally bought 17 bananas before he left town knowing he’s the only one that eats bananas everyday? Who cares if the weeds have overtaken the flower beds?  Who cares?  Tragedy unfortunately brings clarity – this time let’s make it stick.
  • I’ll stand with you…fans.  I’ll stand with you.  I’m not gonna stop that.  And, I don’t want you to stop either.  I want to get out there, in the middle, listen and watch.  I want to hear you sing those words.  I want to meet you and I want to say thank you.  You’ve given me and my family so much.  We really can never thank you enough.  Please come, don’t stop.  I’ll stand with you!
  • Be there!  Please be there!  On the other side.  We don’t know what tomorrow brings.  There are no promises.  So, I need to know that you’re gonna be there.  All of you!  Family – Friends – Coworkers – Stranger on the street – Fan in the crowd  – don’t wait.  Let go of the excuses and reasons.  I just need to know that you’re gonna be there.  Accept the peace, the grace, the mercy and most importantly the love.  And please, please be there.

So over the next few days as this story unfolds, and missing pieces are tragically put together, let’s choose love.  Let us mourn with the families of the victims.  Let’s be the kind person in the grocery store and the patient person in traffic.  Let’s hold our tongue on social media and speak truth with grace.  Let’s love our neighbors as ourselves.  Let’s stop with the small stuff and eat the bananas.    Let’s stand up together, be there for each other and like my great friend Drake White says during his show, “I still believe there are more good people than bad”.  Let’s be the good!!!

~Mary Ann

2 thoughts on “Be the Good, Neighbor.

  1. So very true. Nothing to add. You have said it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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