I have an associate degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in criminology, a master’s degree in social work and a phd in faking the funk. I so often present as a very confident and outgoing person when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is I often get quite anxious in social settings and default to hanging out in the periphery whenever possible.
I hate feeling that way. I absolutely love feeling connected to others and feel like I am my best self when doing so. I just need help getting there; needing permission to let my guard down and be vulnerable.
Lately I’ve felt different though. Isaac and I were at the Holy Cross parade and ran into quite a few people who I haven’t seen in years. Usually when that happens I pretend to be blind and completely oblivious of my surroundings in hopes of avoiding of what I imagine would be an awkward interaction. That wasn’t the case this time though. I initiated contact. We immediately connected and there was no discomfort. It felt natural.
The same thing happened today in every one of my meetings. I didn’t need to warm up. I was already there, ready to give of myself in a very genuine way. I ended one meeting with giving someone a hug…and this guy is NOT a hugger! It felt so good. I was being my true self and so was everyone else around me.
Our community has been shaken to the core. Everyone has been impacted. No one has gone unscathed. We’ve been reminded of how fragile and precious life actually is in the most unforgiving and unimaginable way. And how in a moment, it can all be gone.
I see the countless pictures on Facebook of people from all over the state already wearing the Bobcat Strong shirts. Nearly 10,000 have already been printed. Most couldn’t tell you where Western Dubuque is even located. They don’t care. We’ve been united in this tragedy. Our pain and suffering has brought us closer together.
Donations are pouring into local businesses, scholarships are being created, ribbons are being worn, and every man, woman and child in our community is ready and willing to do anything to ease the pain felt by so many. Nothing else matters.
We’ve been reminded of how great we can be and how we fill our lives with so many distractions and excuses that prevent us from being our best self. If we do anything moving forward, let’s commit to never forgetting.
Never shall we forget the young men that lost their lives. Nor shall we forget the countless others that have forever been changed by that one fateful afternoon. Let us also never forget how we are right now. Remember our willingness to give of ourselves in the most genuine and meaningful way.
They deserve at least that.