In Writing

Riverdale High School Lit Fest 2016It seems we’ve gotten to the point where mass shootings happen with such regularity they bubble to the top of the news cycle, but then fall away almost instantly. That’s why we heard only brief mentions in the national media of a shooting at a teen club in Fort Myers, Florida, and then haven’t heard anything more. What was the motive? Who were the people killed? How are their families doing? Perhaps with all of this noise around the presidential conventions, we may never know.

I was particularly touched by this event, because I was just in Fort Myers a few months ago participating in a literacy festival in Riverdale High School. One of my favorite T-shirts these days is a sparkly one I bought at Riverdale. It reminds me of the beautiful community I was introduced to there. The kids were smart and engaged. The event was flawlessly planned and executed. They made all the authors in attendance feel like real VIPs. They’d created a hand-drawn poster of my book cover and video trailers for my book (and every author’s book). It was a place full of hope and promise and the enthusiastic innocence of lives about to begin in earnest.

No community should be touched by the death of young people. Every single life lost is a tragedy that spans entire lifetimes – families forever altered, communities more afraid of the fragility of life. But this community, in particular, does not deserve this heartache. I feel for them in ways I can’t fully express.

I have no idea if any of the victims went to Riverdale, but, as with most communities, I’m sure that family and friendship ties means that at least some of the kids and faculty I met have been touched by this tragedy in some way, even if just in knowing that they drive by a place where people lost their lives. It is senseless and unfair. I am so sorry, Fort Myers. Thinking warm thoughts of healing and love for you all.

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