Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When bad things happen to good people...

The whole “Sometimes bad things happen to good people” saying is a fact of life. I’ve heard this before. I know this. I understand this.
But it’s something about when that saying comes to life and lands on your doorstep that phrases like that become incomprehensible. And as you try to process something so horrific, the only thing you find yourself asking is “Why?”

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. In fact, that’s about the only word that’s played in the background of my thoughts ever since Friday night. See, the spotlight story by Janelle Rucker that ran on Monday’s front page – that was about my church member. That was my church that was affected and those are me and my people that have been completely devastated by the loss of Sandra “Sister” Vanzant Campbell. And we’ve been functioning in a cloudy haze ever since.

See, we’re one of those kind of small, close-knit churches where our members feel more like family than random people we worship with every Sunday. And to know Sister is to know that this hardworking, fun-loving, praise-filled mother, daughter, sister, soon-to-be grandmother didn’t deserve to be shot down like a dog. That kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen to people like that. Right?

I’ve known Sister ever since I was 7 years old. That’s when my dad became pastor at the church where he grew up in South Mansfield. And just as they said in the story, Sister always kept you laughing and she was one of church’s hardest workers. Funerals, festivals, holidays, fundraisers, whatever, Sister was always there helping out, planning, coordinating.

And she loved to get her praise on. I’m the musician at my church and there were many Sundays when I and the choir members would stifle giggles watching Sister up on her feet rocking her head with her eyes closed, bouncing her shoulders, clapping her hands and two-stepping from side to side enjoying the music and singing her heart out.

Her nickname “Sister” couldn’t have been more fitting because she was definitely like a big sister, aunt or cousin to everyone. Her daughter Jamia shares her same sense of humor and has always been like a kid sister to my own sister and me.

And that's why I struggle to understand what makes a man walk into a house of defenseless women and children, open fire on a woman he once claimed to love as she flees for her life, shoot her down like a dog, then come BACK in the house and shoot her pregnant daughter in front her grandma and young niece and nephew.

It’s taken me awhile to even come to the point of expressing myself on here because I’m so filled with shock, hurt and anger that some of my thoughts toward her killer are just plain inappropriate. I guess I’m in the anger stage of the grieving process.

I know violence is, unfortunately, a sad reality of life. And it’s so sad and wrong that people have to deal with this on a daily basis. That same weekend a 9-year-old honors student Treveon Hunter was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. And I know there’s probably hundreds more all over the country that died by gunfire just this past weekend alone.

And when I hear of this happening to other people I shake my head, I say a prayer and I go on with my day. But when it comes out of nowhere and hits you in the gut like this…The pain is indescribable.

I look at Sister’s mom and sister and brothers. And I visit Jamia who’s lying in a hospital bed crying for her mom, knowing she’ll never see her again and I wonder how we’ve come to live in a world where this is normal.

I mean, what’s the answer ya’ll? For real, what’s the answer?


Diane Haag said...

I'm so sorry Donecia. It doesn't make sense. The theology student in me can pull out all sorts of possible cosmic explanations and platitudes, but it doesn't make the hurt go away.

We can pray that something good will come of it. Maybe her death and Treveon's death is the one that makes the community as a whole stand up and say we won't take this anymore. We're going to make our families stronger. We're going to help those who struggle. We're not going to let drugs and violence be an answer. At least that's my prayer.

Donecia Pea said...

You're absolutely right Diane.

I mean seriously, we just HAVE to come together and put our foot down as a community at some point and say no more. This is not acceptable, you know?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and prayers.