I’m an avid grocery shopper. I love to do so. Grocery stores have long been a haven for me, easily among my happiest places to be. I’m enchanted with the vibrant displays and colors, the abundance of fresh foods and culinary comforts. I appreciate the aisles of ample necessities, and I cherish the coffee cafes often built within; but, what do we do when havens become hellish? What happens when we are thrust from daily regularities to dire realities? I was forced to wrestle with these questions after the chain of stores that I frequent the most was the center of a deadly shooting too close to home.
I recently moved to Colorado after living in Texas for 37 years. As my mother and siblings feel far away, I gravitated to the King Soopers chain because they were owned by a large company that I recognized from Houston – Krogers. They even carry a wealth of Krogers products on their shelves. I quickly recognized that their self-check out machines are exactly the same, and shopping there just felt like home. So, despite where I am in various cities (as I often have business in Denver and other neighboring cities, away from my residence), I look for this store in particular.
While shopping at a teacher supply store on yesterday for my students, I received a most disturbing alert. I was advised to avoid the King Sooper store in Boulder due to an active shooter who had not yet been apprehended. Apparently, my husband had put an app on my phone that informed me though I was unaware it had ever been downloaded. I quickly went home shortly thereafter, following a live news feed my younger brother had sent me from Houston regarding the incident. I viewed it with shock and horror.
I weighed many of the complexities in disbelief, and was quite shaken as my trips to the store have greatly increased since the pandemic. My four growing boys seem to have insatiable appetites, and though I consider myself an effective shopper (and often buy in bulk), it seems their stomachs are bottomless. I’m in these stores two to three times a week; sometimes several days in a row. My purchases are often as random as those who were in the store yesterday, yet ten of them lost their lives.
I often tell my family and friends that I love them – quite randomly. When they ask why, I always remark, “You never know what will happen. What if I didn’t wake up tomorrow? I might not see you again.” Some think its dark or melancholy, but I consider that people often leave their homes in the morning with the assumption they’ll return in similar fashion, only to discover that they will take their last breath. I don’t want to say, “I wish I would have told them how much I really love them.” Instead, I intentionally express it many ways – all the time.
Life…is precious. It is short, it is fleeting, and it is fragile. As we can’t predict our longevity nor final moments, it is incumbent upon us to make every moment count. I especially encourage my fellow writers (and everyone) to capture events in your lives with your whole heart, your mind, your camera, your pen, your words – and engrave it in your soul so that it can be treasured forever. Our comforts in life often make the journey easier and can remind us of how blessed we are. Let’s not let chaos triumph in such a way that it robs us of the gifts we will never be able to replace.
Many prayers and condolences to the families whose lives are forever changed by this tragedy. On their behalf, and for the sake of us all, may we love fully and fervently as if everyday was our last.