I'm sure a lot of people think like I do: small-town life is pokey, dull (unless you like the pokey, which I do), and safe. Or at least, safer than life in The Big City, where you have to watch out for muggings, and swarmings on transit, and home invasions, and random gang shootings in crowded public places and busy intersections, and so on....
Until a helicopter crashes in the middle of the street, a couple blocks from a school, in a residential neighbourhood, killing all three on board and taking out a pedestrian on the way down. And, um, a half-block from my sister's house, where she, her husband, and all 4 kids were home at the time. Maybe 2 blocks from where my mother-in-law was looking after a friend's kids. Right in front of my friend's daughter's apartment. Etc. etc.
Something like that blows the "small town idyll" out of the water.
This is a community that knows from recent experience how widely the loss of 4 people will be felt. We are fortunate, Mr.Q & I, that this time we don't know any of the victims personally. That our family members in the immediate vicinity are safe. But in a small town, there's no such thing as "6 degrees of separation" - there will be one or two, three at most. We'll know someone who's grieving, for their own loss, or that of someone dear to them.
Not to put too fine a point on it - but it really fucking sucks.
I'd already booked a trip Home, leaving Friday morning. The timing was perfect - coinciding with a celebration of friends and music and food, in honour of someone dear that we lost two years ago...To be in that fine company, singing tunes and camping out, seems extra-right, now. Re-affirming connection, community, being alive, and grateful for all of it. Remembering not to take things or people, or just being here, for granted.
Now - Go hug somebody you love. Or smile at a stranger. Or something. Then, do it again. Coz you just never, ever know.