ESSAY: ‘Am I OK?’

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Am I OK that during our traditional Route 91 outing with family and friends an epitome of evil decided to go on a shooting rampage killing 59 and injuring more than 500? Am I OK that when the shooting began two of my daughters were in the direct line of fire and separated from us, not with us in what could have been our last moments? Am I OK with the frozen fear the young blond woman experienced as I prayed with her while huddled in the stands not knowing where the endless rounds were coming from and if they were going to hit us next? Am I OK with finally making it to cover under a grandstand and caring for a man that had been shot? Am I OK with another young woman that looked at me with such fear that she wet herself? Am I OK with the mother that stood wailing next to her dead daughter lying in a wheelbarrow covered by an American flag bandanna? Am I OK after watching a daughter’s face as her mom went in and out of consciousness from a gunshot wound as we waited for a vehicle to transport her?

I am physically OK and forever grateful my family walked out with only scrapes and bruises. I am OK because I witnessed the best in people assisting the injured young and frail who had been young and strong only moments earlier. I give praise to the men who took their belts and turned them into tourniquets. To the shirtless men and women that provided their clothing as bandages. To Jenna who worked beside me and to others who aided and comforted the injured. To the drivers of all the trucks and cars that lined up and stopped so we could load the injured into their vehicles. To the man that took Courtney, Katie and Rylee to shelter behind the tour buses. To my husband, who had the presence of mind to tell us when to run because he was listening and knew the shooter was reloading.

As I reminisce about my experience I can’t help but think of the men and women that serve our country and experience the sights and sounds of such horror on a regular basis while deployed in countries at war. I am eternally grateful to the first responders and servicemen and women that protect us daily. May we never take our freedom for granted, always respect the flag and what it represents and care for one another as Americans looking past political parties, race or religion. I am OK because of them, too.

We will all be OK if we pray for the injured and the family and friends of the deceased. If we donate blood. If we tell our families we love them. If we are kind to a stranger. If we enjoy the moment. We never know which one will be our last.

I will be OK.

•••

Editor’s note: Michelle Cook, a former nurse who lives in California, is a relative of local resident Marty Coon.

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