Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Heartstopping

This evening I returned from a lovely walk at the Berkeley Marina and, as the sun began its descent over my view of Mt. Tam, I turned on the local news. The name of a 29 year old mother of two appeared on the screen. She was shot dead this morning in Richmond in front of her 2 toddlers. I saw her name flash across the screen and gasped. I felt my stomach drop down toward my shaking legs. My heart beat faster, and I gasped for breath. It can't be the Rashonda I know. Please, no. Is she 29 now? I wasn't sure, but somewhere in the close vicinity. Could she have children? Yes, she could. The details of her life and how we met played in my brain. My mind flooded with painful memories. Her family, the shocking murder of her adopted toddler brother. I remembered their home, the parents, the brothers. The details of all she and her mother went through were still crystal clear in my mind. I remembered meeting them years later in different circumstances. They lived in a housing project - bare to the bones. I remember seeing her cross MacDonald Avenue one day in the pouring rain. She was coming out of school and didn't have any raingear. I wanted to stop and hand her an umbrella but the light changed and there were impatient drivers behind me. No, please no, don't let it be her. Her mother cannot take much more. I know there are other women with the same name. If it is not her, then it is someone else with the same name. A young woman, shot dead in front of her children. It is not the Rashonda I know, and all I can think is to thank God, but I do pray for the children and family of the young woman who was murdered. Tonight's total upset has got me thinking about the nature of PTSD and how it can even take just one word, or one sound, or one small event, and one's nervous system and internal alerts and defenses get to work and unhinge one. And this womens toddlers saw this all happen. And the cycle doesn't end.

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