I have a palm tree necklace.
It set us back a whole ten dollars, purchased on the boardwalk in Destin, Florida during the first trip my husband and I took alone after our children were grown.
Its multi-colored rhinestones were the most sparkly of all the rhinestones in the kiosk, set up to attract tourists hoping to capture a moment in time.
I have written about this necklace and its significance to me. The strength I garner when I wear it; the joy it brings me to see it sparkling in a mirror; the smile it draws from total strangers when they take notice of the out of place symbol of tropical sun on a cold snowy Midwestern day.
But my necklace has lost a little sparkle. First one beige trunk stone, then a green frond stone. Looking at it today I see a second stone from the trunk gone.
I never see these stones disappear.
One day they are there.
The next they are gone...
We lost a co-worker this past week.
He was there on a Friday, being his typical quiet smiling self.
And on Monday we learned he was gone.
Just like those rhinestones, mysteriously disappearing.
But unlike those worthless stones, we do know when and where he disappeared.
With one selfish, violent act.
The pull of a trigger.
This sweet, gentle man disappeared.
Yet that knowing doesn't help.
My co-workers and I wandered through our work week slightly off-kilter, missing that bit of sparkle.
Disbelief and anger the undercurrent.
A life ended as the result of a selfish, violent act.
As healthcare workers in an urban environment, we see the effects of gun violence. It is seldom random, yet in the two times it has struck our work family the victims were innocent.
That's two co-workers in the ten years I have worked in the city. Three victims in all, who I have known. The third being a friend and co-worker of my husband, in his law enforcement days.
Three in ten years.
There is nothing honorable about gun violence. It is selfish. Pure and simple.
You have something I want.
You said something I disagree with.
You are with someone who should be with me.
You aren't the color
class....I feel is best.
So a trigger is pulled...
and another sparkling rhinestone disappears...
From now on, when I look at this necklace, I will first see those missing stones.
One for my husband's co-worker. Our first experience with violent crime. He died in the line of duty, while apprehending a known dangerous felon.
One for the co-worker who was nearly killed but survived.
And now one for the dear, quiet man who was here on Friday...
But I will not only see the empty spaces.
I will see the sparkle of the remaining stones and remember the brightness each of those men brought to our world.
I will remember the strength of the palm tree, how it bends in a storm, sways in the breeze, shades a weary person on an unbearable day.
Life is too fragile to do otherwise.