So this weekend, in fact today, Friday, October 6, my husband and I were supposed to attend The RiSE festival outside of Las Vegas… Something I had been looking forward to for months and months since I purchased our tickets. It’s supposed to be a time to come together with music, but most importantly, a message. A message inviting someone’s life, someone’s hopes, someone’s goals, and a moment to reflect on what makes one who he or she has become, or dreams of becoming.
It is a festival where lanterns are provided for each festival goer to be released altogether after sunset. One is supposed to write whatever is on his or her heart on those lanterns, light them from a torch, and then 8 to 10,000 lanterns go up in the air all at once… Torches to self-sustaining light, to beautiful stardust. Just from the videos, I get chills, but those that have attended say it’s infinitely more affecting and much more magical in person. Nothing can capture the feeling.
And that’s what I wanted. To have that magical feeling- indescribable and unbridled. Something you cannot explain but makes you float with happiness and your heart heavy to exploding with warmth. I don’t know if those words make any sense… But I was so looking forward to it… to experiencing what I’ll never put in words yet infinitely treasure…
Then a whole different reality struck last Sunday and Las Vegas was the epicenter of a horrifically tragic shooting. Someone who felt like playing God, took the lives of so many innocent and forever affected the trajectory of those that managed to escape and live. In light of that tragedy, my husband and I decided not to attend the RiSE festival. Not for fear of what could happen to us, not because now we want to crawl into a hole and shelter our lives… That would be winning for those incredibly selfish, psychopathic and disgusting individuals carrying out these acts. But I felt I couldn’t go because I wanted it to be a celebration of myself… And we are all entitled to celebrate life, and some people would say especially now, moreso, after an event like this. But even so far removed, I feel my night would be irreverent to those gone and suffering.
So I will celebrate within the home I’m fortunate to walk into tonight. I celebrate the fact I am still alive. The fact I am still with my child, with my husband, with the rest of my family. That I still wake up in my bed next to the one I love and can tiptoe across the hall at midnight, sit on the edge of my son’s bed, and stare uninterrupted at his peaceful, angelic face. I am infinitely blessed – no matter the challenges or trials I may face. I AM ALIVE. I am here to make a difference. And although we are not attending the festival this weekend, for I feel it’s a time of mourning those lost and contemplation for how to change what a twisted part of our society has deemed acceptable, I will celebrate the life I am fortunate enough to possess and continue to live.
In honor of those lost, I will love my husband. I will treasure my son. And I will fight for the betterment of those whom are still here… There is nothing anyone can do, and especially nothing anyone can say, to bring back those gone, or heal the scars of those who witnessed what happened Sunday night. Nothing will help heal but time; nothing will truly heal but processing and the incredible act of forgiveness.
Many would say “GO! and honor them there!” For me, I need to do it here, in this chair at the table I use to gather my family of three. At the heart of my home. In the space my husband and I have conquered so much…
Fortunately ignorant to tragic loss, I only know life is precious. And instances like these always remind us of its fragility. In a world where we freak out about missed homework, a get-together, being left out of social situations, or not being the best at this and that, I am reminded A- those things are petty!!!! And B – love. Love. Love.
Love the life I live.
Love the one I’m with.
Love those who love me.
Love what has been sacrificed in my name.
Love the betterment my actions can afford myself and others.
And treasure the ability to love people in return, stranger or not.
That is what I take for granted. That is what I will be thinking of Friday night, as my husband and I stay home, light a candle, and get back to the basics. The words I planned to say at the RiSE festival. The words so now blurred and affected by what happened last Sunday.
Friday night was supposed to be a night for me to cleanse my soul. I imagined myself in the desert, my husband’s arms around me as they are every time I have a seizure, staring up into the sky filled with beautiful twinkling light… Beautiful glowing lamps with numerous wishes, hopes, dreams, regrets, missions, statements of purpose written across them… Sent up to the heavens.
I may not be there physically tonight, but I want those living to know, and those staring down from up above- each beautiful glowing lamp will reach you in the heavens. Those hopes, those dreams, those regrets, those missions, and those statements of purpose will fly up into the arms of each one of you and you will see the world is not evil. It is the joy you felt beginning your night last Sunday. The warmth you felt in connection to those next to you. The fluidity of happiness. The world is good. Humanity is still connected. We may be a little frayed but we are sewn together by the thread finding us in your loss. Know not one of you is forgotten. Each one of your stories lives on.
And it is together, no matter the geography or floating lights into the night, that we will rise. And we will rise… Because that’s what we do. Because no matter the malady or circumstance, we are born to rise. To progress. To love.
Although strangers in our own fights, and flights, there IS good. And tonight I’ll be imagining all those messages on wings floating into a dark sky, illuminating the humanity from which they came. Rising, rising, always…