I come from a small town. We spent our time walking down to the corner store to get candy, riding four wheelers in the backyard, and snooping in everybody’s business. My neighbor would wait on her porch for me to return home from dates, effectively quashing any front-door kissing shenanigans. If I drove too recklessly, my mother always received an admonishing phone call. If somebody was sick, there were always balloons, flowers, cakes, and casseroles. Most of my stories take place in small towns because it is the very essence of who I am.
It’s also a town of tragedy. There was a mine fire that killed my friends’ daddies. A few years ago there was a mine collapse that you probably heard about on the news. It killed my friends’ husbands. This morning there was a double homicide that rocked the community. Two parents were killed by a shotgun to the face. Five of their children were in the house. One of them was the shooter.
Everybody affects everbody. This isn’t like the city, where you can get lost and be anonymous. These people are friends and neighbors. At the very least, we run into them at the grocery store and post office. You can’t just disappear here and think that you won’t leave a giant hole.
I fled my hometown like I had wings on my feet. I wanted to see something bigger and brighter. But I grew up in a place where actions had consequences, respect was taught, and we always tried to do the right thing. I think that I learned grace and dignity while I was there. I certainly learned how to face adversity.
My heart goes out to everybody back home. Please know that I’m thinking about you.