Rural Tragedy

I live in a rural area just inland from the New England coastline, a place that was settled in the hunt for cod and timber in the 1700s. According to the 2010 census there are 7,700 souls residing in this town, which encompasses 93.8 square miles. It’s not a place that makes my heart sing but I chose to be here to do the right thing.

At first, when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t sure what day it was. My husband told me it was Sunday, granting further respite before Monday’s onslaught. At 4:30A, as we had our morning coffee, we commented on the unmistakeable sound of a helicopter. We live under the flight path to the hospital. I said, specifically, how much I hate to hear it because the sound of those rotor blades is an afterword to tragedy. We heard a flight arrive and leave three times. We naturally assumed that there had been a car accident in the wee hours with multiple injured strangers. It made sense to imagine that the patients’ injuries were more than our little hospital could handle so they were being flown, one at a time, to a trauma hospital not far away.

At about 9 our phone began to ring. We were displeased. It’s Sunday, we should be able to rest. My husband was making fish chowder, while I sorted through business insurance policies, in peace. His cell phone went off too. He capitulated and answered the damn thing. At the same time our landline rang again. I gave up and said, “Hello.” We got the news at the same time, small town tragedy.

There had been a drug related shooting. One young man was shot at point blank range between the eyes with a 12 gauge shotgun, another suffered a life threatening injury, the third and fourth men were shot but not lethally injured.

Two of the young men involved are brothers. Their dad is familiar to us. He appears to be a decent man. One of his boys died. The LifeFlight crew did their best to sustain life and the hospital continued the effort so the family would have time to gather at his bedside.

The surviving brother is the same age as my husband’s oldest son. When he was in middle school he was a welcome visitor in our home. He was a good kid. His parents divorced. After his dad remarried he got a little lost in the shuffle. That child made my heart ache. He used to invite my husband to watch his wrestling matches. My husband went.

As the kids grew older they didn’t hang out as much but they did stay in touch. We discovered that good boy was into serious drugs. We talked with him, not to force a change but to let him know that we cared about him. His dad had given him a job and a company vehicle with all the trust that implies. He did harder drugs. He had a heart attack before he was 25. Now his older brother is dead at less than 30.

The general consensus is that every one of those young men deserved what he got. People have gone so far as to say they wish they’d all been killed. I understand that sentiment, truly I do. In a lot of ways, it would have been a favor to the family and friends remaining.  People who haven’t lived the misery of second hand drug addiction can’t imagine the total heartbreak in trying to save a loved one over and over again, only to fail each time. I can’t  imagine the parental guilt and recrimination.

I don’t wish they’d all been killed. The shock of the events made me cry. Today, I am very thankful that I was willing to move here to this place that doesn’t make my heart sing. My husband would know guilt and recrimination if something as tragically devastating were to befall his kids too. Luckily, he won’t ever have to wonder if his absence impacted the outcome.


About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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8 Responses to Rural Tragedy

  1. judithatwood says:

    What a sad way to recognize the goodness of your decision to live there, but such a valuable gift you’ve given. BTW, do you live in Maine?

    • elroyjones says:

      I often wonder if it’s possible to be alternately generous and resentful. In the spring, summer and fall I’m content to be here but through the winter??? Oh Sister, look out! The good thing is, I love my husband like there’s no tomorrow so it hasn’t been a completely altruistic mission. Yup.

      • misslisted says:

        What a terribly sad story. It hurts my heart to hear it. I do think it’s totally possible, normal even, to be alternately generous and resentful. For sure.

      • elroyjones says:

        Hurts my heart too. People are being so disrespectful on the newspaper blogs. Regardless of the circumstances, all of the people involved have families in anguish over this meaningless tragedy. It could be anyone.

        Glad to know you think those opposing emotions can exist in the same person on the same issue, thanks!

  2. gkinnard says:

    A hard post . . . almost nothing kills me more than wasted potential. Lives gone or changed forever all for drugs: I hate that. I feel for you and all involved.

    My oldest son, Brad, who I’ve not mentioned in any of my posts yet, got into a world of trouble in his early twenties involving drugs. He did over a year in prison because of his bad choices. Ironically, doing time in prison was the best thing that could have happened: he’s been clean and sober for years now and has earned two college degrees! I worried for years that I would one day be mourning him because of drugs—but not now!

    • elroyjones says:

      George, you KNOW I love a happy ending. Good for Brad! I think of the drugs available today and I shudder. If the same substances had been available to our generation, how many of us would have lived to tell the tale?

  3. That is tragic. I don’t even know what else to say. The mother in me — it just makes me sad … Okay, I just reread it and your love for your husband made me smile. Thank you.

    • elroyjones says:

      It IS tragic. It is tragic that this is not the first shooting to occur in this rural area. I am relieved at the shock throughout the community, a sign of hope for proactive prevention.

      Yes, I love my husband; heaven alone knows how spoiled he is!

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