I heard on the radio there had been a shooting at Clackamas mall. Moments later my sister called me; she was at the mall where the shooting occurred. She was frantic as she could not reach her husband Steve. I left work immediately to find my sister and niece outside the mall. My sister still hadn’t been able to reach Steve.
After waiting over four hours, a few detectives told us that Steve had been killed in the shooting. The first words my sister said were, “Did Steve suffer?” The detectives assured my sister that Steve did not suffer. He was shot in the head by the gunman from less than 20 feet away. The detectives said Steve was gone before he hit the floor. The fact that Steve did not suffer brought some comfort. Those are the things you have to look for to process the trauma of a senseless act. My sister and her daughter were grateful they surprised Steve with a visit. Fortunately, they didn’t see Steve get shot, but they heard the gun shot that killed him. Yet another thing to be grateful for, as they did not see Steve dead on the mall floor. When we were leaving the mall to go home and tell their son, Alex, that his father had died at the mall, the officer told me “you won’t understand this yet, but in time you will. Your family is lucky the shooter killed himself, as we won’t have to live through a trial.” Yet again, another thing to be grateful for!
No one ever wants to join this club, nor does anyone join the club voluntarily. Club membership is thrust on your family by senseless acts under the glare of breaking news headlines.The medical examiners (ME)’s office was very close to the mall, but fortunately we did not have to drive by the Clackamas Mall on the way to retrieve Steve’s personal effects. Yet another thing to be grateful for, as it had only been two days since Steve had been murdered. Before leaving the ME’s office, I waited for my sister to leave the office, while I wanted to talk privately with the ME. My question for the ME, “did he think it would be possible for a private viewing for one last goodbye?” Steve was wearing a baseball cap at the private viewing, which he often did when he was coaching youth sports. Yet again, we’re grateful for this goodbye while reeling from the trauma of Steve’s senseless murder!
Our family isn’t alone being grateful for these small chance events as they help process the lifelong grief.
Steve was a very positive, uplifting person, helping people reach their highest potential. We’re grateful Steve gave his children life skills to make their way in life without him.
Despite all the we’re grateful for, Steve wasn’t at the wrong place at the wrong time, the shooter was. The shooter shouldn’t have had easy access to loaded and unlocked guns.