Thursday, March 26, 2015

Post 60: It Could Have Been Us

April 13, 2015, will mark one year since the murders at Village Shalom and the Jewish Community Center in suburban Kansas City.

The writer in me feels obligated to acknowledge the anniversary.

The reporter in me wants to provide accurate information on the tragic deaths of Terri LaManno, William Corporon and Reat Underwood.

The mother in me wants to say, "It could have been us. Thirty minutes earlier, and it could have been us."

On April 13, 2014, my daughter Kate and I both went to visit mom at Village Shalom. It was a Sunday like any other, and that meant bingo at 11 a.m. Since Kate was there to help her grandma, I helped another elderly woman.

I helped Terri LaManno's mom.

A little after noon, Kate and I left her car in the parking lot at Village Shalom -- we both got in my car and drove off for an afternoon of lunch and shopping. About 30 minutes after we left the parking lot, Terri LaManno drove in.

William Corporon and Reat Underwood had already been shot. Terri LaManno was next.

It could have been us. Thirty minutes earlier, and it could have been us.

That's 1,800 seconds -- 1,800 seconds between life and death in the parking lot of my mother's assisted living home, a beautiful facility named for peace.

As soon as we heard the news of the shootings, Kate and I drove back to Village Shalom. Naturally, the police wouldn't let us back into the parking lot, so I drove away -- knowing only that a woman had been killed. I wasn't sure if mom was OK. I drove for a few blocks and then pulled over and parked -- unknowingly, right around the corner from where the shooter was hiding.

It could have been us.

I can't tell you why three wonderful people were killed that day. I can't tell you why Kate and I are still here. I can only tell you that Mindy Corporon -- who lost her father and son in the shootings -- is absolutely, 100 percent right: We cannot be overcome by evil and we can overcome evil with good. I encourage all the Creative Instigation readers in the Greater KC area to take part in the Seven Days event that culminates in a faith walk on April 13 from the Jewish Community Center to the Church of the Resurrection.

I can also tell you this -- we are all connected. The first call I received after the shooting came from my friend Denise, who works at the Church of the Resurrection. She knew mom lived at Village Shalom and wanted to make sure we were all OK. At the time she called, I didn't know who had been killed. Later, after finally reaching mom, I called Denise back to tell her we were all fine. And she told me about Reat, the dear young man who had been one of her youth volunteers.

Reat Underwood is gone. William Corporon is gone. Terri LaManno is gone. Kate and I -- and you -- are still here. And it is up to us to do all we can to bring peace and understanding forward.

Because we are all connected. And it could have been any of us.

Post 60 is a digression on the Creative Instigation blog, part of my 60th year celebration. This is post 11 of the 60. 


Mike said...

I was working out that afternoon and a local TV station broke in with the news on the gym TV. I thought about you and your mom immediately. It seems like by the time I got home either they had names or descriptions or something on social media that made it clear it wasn't you . . . that moment of relief, but still the horror of anyone being able to do something like that.

Kate ONeill Rauber said...

Love you. Love Kate. Thank you for reminding all of us to stop, remember and honor.