On the morning of August 26, I was going about my morning as usual. I woke up at 6 am, made my coffee, checked the weather on the news, and went out to smoke, drink my overly-sweet coffee, and read. I do this every morning and Wednesday was no different. I came into to the kitchen to plug in my phone, charge my hotspot, and start getting myself and my boys ready for the day. As I rinsed out my coffee mug, the early morning peace was shattered by five state troopers, flying down the road, lights flashing and sirens blaring. No more than 30 seconds later, two county deputies followed in the same frantic state.
I live on a notoriously busy road, far too narrow for the number of tourists that visit the lake in the summer. I disregarded the sirens and lights; I was just worried that a horrendous wreck would make me late for work and praised myself for my habit of always leaving early so that, at worst, I’m precisely on time and not late. I made sure my kids were appropriately dressed and eating breakfast before I started getting myself ready. I had already put those frenzied police officers out of my mind.
I started the car and sat waiting for my first grader’s bus (the middle schooler had already left on his) and the local Top 40 station broke in stating that there had been a shooting at Bridgewater Plaza and played the audio from the spot that played on our local news. You hear Alison Parker screaming and Kimberly McBroom stutter in disbelief as the camera is back on her unexpectedly.
I work about 3 miles from Bridgewater Plaza. I can’t think of my teen or young adult years without thinking of that place. I remember dancing at the lake-level bar. I remember eating ice cream and playing in the arcade. I remember watching football games at Moosies, feeding the carp at the marina, and having my wedding rehearsal dinner at Mango’s. Nothing bad is supposed to happen there. Bridgewater is a HAPPY place.
I made in to work early (as usual) and found out from my boss when she arrived about 5 minutes later that our bank was going on lock-down (like my youngest son’s school) until further notice. I work at a bank less than 5 miles from where there was an active shooter situation (as far as the general public knew). I was naturally nervous and wanted as much information as possible.
Facebook was flooded with local posts about what was happening and the video of what, unfortunately, was the last broadcast of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. It’s not graphic, but it is horrifying. Seeing the panic on Alison’s face in the few seconds after the gunshots start before Adam’s camera goes down is blood chilling. I have watched the video more than once and I have no desire to ever see it again. I certainly won’t be sharing it. Neither will I share the “companion” piece shot by the maniac himself.
I didn’t know Alison or Adam. That doesn’t keep me from mourning their deaths or for feeling sympathy and grief for those left behind. Alison and Adam’s parents. Alison’s boyfriend. Adam’s fiancée, who had to hear her future husband’s death from the control room of the morning show, where it was her last day as a producer. It was Adam’s last day behind the camera for WDBJ as the couple was moving to Charlotte. I’m fortunate because no one I’ve loved has died a violent death, so I can’t empathize with the kind of soul-deep anguish their loved ones must be feeling. I’m glad Vicki Gardener survived and is recovering from multiple surgeries, but I don’t know her either. My happiness for her isn’t personal.
My deepness of feeling for the events of the past week is due to its closeness to home. If I walk down the picturesque deck of Bridgewater, the brand new boards in the walk among the aged, weathered ones is a sign that something bad has happened. Smith Mountain Lake is peaceful. The foliage as fall approaches is spectacular. The lake during the summer takes up the majority of my happy childhood memories. I learned to kneeboard there. My high school graduation party was there. I was married at one of the local country clubs. My class ring is somewhere on the bottom after it slipped off my finger during some drunken night swimming. People, especially young people with full lives and bright careers ahead of them, are not supposed to get shot there.
To move on, I finished a super-long one-shot that has been on the back burner for a while. I used it to decompress when I was getting blocked on TLRH. It’s Harry Potter, so I could focus on different characters to clear my head a little. It’s Dramione, which is my absolute favorite, but also has some Drarry and is my first ever attempt at slash. If HP isn’t your thing, I understand, but anyone interested can just click below. I should have the next chapter for TLRH typed out over Labor Day weekend. Hope you enjoy!