In exactly two weeks, “BFC Tragedy” climbs its way to the top of the list of writing topics on the sidebar of this Vermont blog–from a tiny thing at the bottom, to where it sits now–boldface, beside the prominent category of “Autumn.”
In retrospect, I wish I’d tagged this collection “BFC Healing” instead of “tragedy,” but at the time I never imagined that so much compassion would flow from murder.
Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime passed since the Co-op mutated from haven to hell in an instant?
Somehow I find myself back here on a Tuesday; and this time it’s definitely easier; though I’m taken aback to see a baby in the cafe. A baby.
Earlier this afternoon I passed tourists at the corner of Elliott and Main–two moms and a young son looking for a place to eat. I recommended the Co-op; and then wondered if I’d made a mistake. If I was visiting, would I want to take my kids there?
I’ve left my own kids at home, but my husband has accompanied me again. I watch with tenderness as he approaches one Co-op staffer after another to offer an embrace or a pat on the shoulder.
I feel too shy to do the same, and wish I could wear a button that says, “I gave at my blog.”
“At least go see Tony in the wine department,” my husband says, over a bowl of soup.
Instead I suggest that I come back with cookies or candy–something easier to share than sentiment.
Perhaps the staff has grown weary of compassion anyway, I argue internally. Maybe they’re trying to move on. But the truth is that my biggest concern is that they would feel that we’ve moved on–without them.
Whenever I’m faced with uncertainty around connecting with those in grief, I think back to my friend Trish whose 18 year old brother was killed in an accident the summer we all worked together at the shore. Everyone at the Crab House was heartbroken, but they avoided talking about Tommy so as not to make it harder on Trish.
Finally I asked her. “Does it make it worse when I talk about him?”
“No,” she answered. “I couldn’t feel any worse, and he’s on my mind all the time.”
Maybe it’s that way for everyone at the Co-op. Maybe this tragedy is always on their minds whether we acknowledge it or not.
I wonder how long it will take until I walk into that store and it’s no longer on mine.
Kelly Salasin, August 23, 2011
(ps. As I was leaving the Co-op, I saw those two moms and their young son, and they thanked me for the “great recommendation.”)