Creative Writing: Pittsburgh

It is early afternoon, and we are sitting in our warm home on a cold fall day as my husband reads out loud the names of the 11 victims of a violent crime in Pittsburgh last week.

Jerry Rabinowitz, a physician who always wore a bowtie; two brothers Cecil and David; a 97-year old holocaust survivor whose first name was Rose; Bernice and Sylvan Simon, a couple in their eighties; and then, there was Richard, and Joyce, and Daniel and Irwing and Melvin.

Something breaks deep within my heart as I hear each name fill the air: Jerry, Cecil, David, Rose, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing and Melvin. I feel like I ought to stand up to somehow show my respect.

I am aware that there are children, and nephews and moms and dads and grandchildren and bosses and employees and clients and patients and neighbors wrapped up in each one of these precious names. And even though I did not know Jerry, Cecil, David, Rose, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing or Melvin, I am deeply affected by their death, feeling outrage and grief.  

I stare at the leaves dancing off the trees into the yard and think of how they lived their whole cycle of life, and they are ending their days in beauty. But Rose, she survived the Holocaust only to still be murdered in the name of hatred. And Jerry, Cecil, David, Bernice, Sylvan, Richard, Joyce, Daniel, Irwing and Melvin, they did not get to live out their cycle of life.

My heart is heavy. I find myself tempted to abandon joy and just feel sorry for the sad state of our world. But then I read and re-read and re-re-read my sweet daughter-in-law Christine’s conclusion in the face of this atrocity, “I don’t really have words for what it is to have something so hateful happen in the city I love so much. All I know is that I will continue to love my neighbor and my God so that I can show my children how not to be filled with hate or fear others.”

I exhale all the grief and despair. Then I inhale deeply, thanking God for giving her such insight and strength. I will take my place next to Christine.  

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