What I Took Away from Covering the Las Vegas Mass Shooting Today
After a long and horrific Monday revolved around editing and writing tragic headlines, I have to get something off my chest because it feels like it's getting harder and harder to breathe in this world.
I woke up this morning at 4 am, with updates of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. It first said 20 people were dead.
Then 40. 50. 58.
My first thought was, my parents and little sister live in Las Vegas. Then it dawned on me that my mother works at Mandalay Bay and my sister sometimes is a server at events on the Strip. I stop reading and called my parents. No answer. It is about 2:30 am their time when I called, but I didn't think about that detail. Mass text to my family. No answer. It was a very difficult 30 minutes before my dad texts back:
Mom was working last night but I picked her up at 9:30 - we're OK.
She was working on the 34th floor - just two floors below where the shooter took residence and was later found dead with 10 rifles in the room.
My sister, being the social media savvy millennial that she is, marked herself safe on Facebook. Then, an old high school friend of mine did the same as well.
I'm not telling this story because I'm looking for sympathy or empathy or anything really. I am the lucky one in this scenario. My family is OK. My friends are alive. It's those who weren't as fortunate I want you to think about. I was in my own personal hell for 30 minutes waiting to hear back from my loved ones. There are still people out there dealing with that exact same scenario, lasting hours and hours.
So here's what I'm asking you to do, neighbor.
For the next 7 days, I want you to pay it forward. It could be as simple as doling out a hug to someone who clearly needs it. Paying for someone's meal behind you at the drive-thru. Or donating to the GoFundMe campaign to aid victims and the families of the Las Vegas mass shooting. You can also donate to many other organizations or if you're in Nevada, you can donate blood. Do SOMETHING.
The sad lesson we keep forgetting to learn is that we need to tell our loved ones that we love them as much as we can. Life is too unpredictable and there is nothing in this world you can control - except you. So do what you can to make those around you happy. Make your peace. Say I love you.