I don't want to know.
I don't want to know their names, see their pictures, listen while their relatives tell us how wonderful they were and how their lives will never be the same.
I don't want to hear the stories of their bravery in the face of terror, of husbands throwing themselves over wives to protect them in their last act on this earth. I don't want to hear those wives try to come to grips with the fact that someone who loved them enough to die for them did just that.
I don't want to know all the details, the number of weapons, the alterations made to turn them even more lethal. I don't want to hear about the meticulous, detailed planning of the event, the orderly step-by-step progression going on in the mind of someone while that mind was quietly, lethally spinning out of control.
I don't want to know that no one knows, that he kept to himself, was an ordinary guy, that his family can't believe it, his neighbors are shocked, the police had no indication, the maid didn't see anything. That no one, no one, no one, not the people who sold him the weapons or the devices or the ammunition or saw him walk through that last day had any idea what he was going to do.
I don't want to think that during the course of that day and the days preceding it, someone handed him a cup of coffee, served him a meal in a restaurant, made eye contact with him on the street. I don't want to hear that moment passed, and no one knew, that there was no sign, no sense, no aura of the horror that was to come. That he just moved right by.
I don't want to hear about the beauty of the evening, the joy of the people attending the event, how it was someone's birthday or someone's anniversary. How just before the madness started someone told someone else this was the best night of their life. How this was a night they'd remember forever. And now they will.
I don't want to know.
Because if I know, if I hear those stories and see those faces and understand what, if not why, it happened, then I'll have to acknowledge something that I really don't want to. I'll have to acknowledge that they were all wonderful, happy, excited, joyful, very, very ordinary people. Just like everyone around them. Just like you and me and the ones we love.
I'll have to admit that the event, while tremendous in size and unique in location, was just that: an event. Just like any of the hundreds of events I or the ones I love have gone to and will go to. That those people were having the time of their lives at the same time they were exposed to the greatest of evil. They were happy and excited and singing and dancing. And they were targets.
I don't want to know because I'm a husband and a father and a relative and friend and every one of those things is now terrified every time I consider what could easily happen, and did happen to others just like me.
I don't want to know that the next time a child wants to go to a concert my advice will stray from the usual "take plenty of cash and park far enough away that you don't get caught up in traffic" to "wear something dark so you won't be a visible target and shoes you can run in."
But I do want to know.
I want to know those stories. I want to know that in the face of evil and madness there was love and courage. That husbands would die for their wives. That strangers would shelter people and lead them to safety. That a man would steal a truck to drive the wounded to a hospital or a woman who could do nothing else would hold someone's hand at the last.
I want to know there are authorities who would run toward the chaos others flee and who will now methodically tear apart every inch of someone's life to try and understand why.
I want to know the worst of it, what a deranged mind can do and the horror someone can cause. Because then I'll understand specifically the fear that has become part of who we are these days.
But then I'll also know the beauty and heroism and love that are there, as well. I'll know the best of what human beings can do because I hope, if my ordinary life becomes suddenly so terribly less ordinary that maybe, just maybe, I can be like them.
I want to know. And I pray I never will.
Commentary on 10/06/2017
Print Headline: In the know