If youíve been here before, you may have seen some of this already. Iíve put together a couple of items I felt could use some repeating:
Reema Samaha is my cousin. Yes. Is, and always will be. She was the flower girl at my wedding when she was around three or four. She was a dancer and a performer in all ways. She could fill a room with her smile alone. Even 16 years ago, watching her walk down the aisle dropping petals along the aisle, you could see it. There are many people whose lives were brightened simply by being in her presence. Many more would have, except Ö
She was also a freshman at Virginia Tech last April when an armed man with documented unstable behavior and who had been legally declared dangerous killed her and 31 other members of the university community.
And I miss her.
Now what? Oh, we can have the gun control debate. The fact that the shooter met the conditions to be banned from buying firearms in the federal database but that the state of Virginia somehow had no mechanism for reporting his details. That records of his behavioral deviance in middle and high schools were subject to privacy laws and could not be passed on. That Congress decided the answer to keeping crazy people from going on shooting sprees is federal grants for what is basically software updates for half-ass state law enforcement agencies. That whenever something like this happens our elected officials pass retroactive measures that create penalties for committing firearms violations while in the process of mass murder. That the university and the state have, to date, handled the situation in the most irresponsible and, at times, disgusting way possible.
But, sheís gone. Survived the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006 but not her freshman year of college. Killed by a man who warmed up with two early morning shootings, dropped off some mail and then finished off the day with the nationís largest school shooting despite the local authorities having several hours notice that someone on campus was up to no good with a gun. Every time my son and daughter driving me nuts fighting over the computer or what channel to watch on TV, I imagine there was a time Reema, Randa and Omar did the same, and her parents would do anything to have that back.
The day after Reema was killed I stayed home. Itís weird when a loved one dies but you have no direct responsibilities Ė you canít function at work but donít have anything else to do either. So I chopped wood for a while. Then decided to clear out an overgrown section at the back of the yard where I was thinking of making another attempt at a vegetable garden. The location from the previous year hadnít done a thing, not enough sunlight, and it was time to try another. Much of the exterior of the property had not been attended to in the 10 years prior to my moving in and, as I pulled and chopped, I found square footage I had no idea existed. And during this time, I talked to Reema, though about her and decided the garden was my own little living memorial to her. How better to celebrate the lives of the departed than an annual celebration of new growth?
The result last summer was colors to match her best dancing costume. Birds, rabbits and squirrels ate some of the proceeds, but it was if Reema was performing for nature the way she did on the stage when she was here on earth. Not to mention the habaneros that won first prize in the pepper category at the county fair and third place over all other vegetables. I have the ribbons, but theyíre not mine.
Sweetheart, it time to clear again and plant in a couple of weeks. See you there.
"You know who I am," he said
The speaker was an angel
He coughed and shook his crumpled wings
Closed his eyes and moved his lips
"It's time we should be going"
- David Bowie
Dance on, Reema.