2017-10-06 / Commentary

No Gray Area

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

In last week’s column I talked about some super bug I caught, and I want to thank you all who sent well wishes my way. I’m back to myself now, but during that time, I had to cancel three hair appointments. THREE. And I don’t mean just a little cut and blow dry. Although, I was born a natural redhead…and I have baby pictures to prove this…in the last few years I’ve had to resort to color “touch ups” from my hair stylist.

I remember the first time I saw the gray. I scared my husband Marty out of his wits. I was getting ready to go somewhere and putting in a hair comb in to hold one side back and there it was…a splotch of really GRAY hair! I screamed, Marty came running upstairs thinking I had fallen and was befuddled to find me standing in the bathroom staring open mouthed in the mirror.

“What’s wrong?” he panted. “What happened??? Are you okay?”

“Look Marty,” I moaned, pointing to the gray splotch. “Just LOOK!”

He peered at my head, no doubt expecting exposed bone or at least a little blood and then gave a pretty perplexed look at my reflection.

“What?” he asked, obviously not seeing what I saw.

“I have GRAY in my hair Marty! GRAY!”

I won’t go into how the conversation went after that because he was pretty miffed I had scared him over “a stupid gray hair.” What was traumatic for me was silly to him.

But due to missing three salon appointments in the past two weeks, I now have a nice little streak of gray at the top of my head. It seems like the stuff initially shows up with just a teeny little almost unperceivable line and then bam! All of a sudden it looks like I’m smuggling a gray squirrel around.

I am NOT a fan of that look.

Even as I sniveled about the gray, Marty hugged me and smiled and told me I was “always beautiful” to him. That, of course, is what any smart husband would say in that situation, but he added another sentence that made me think.

“Baby just be glad you were able to get to the age where you COULD turn gray. Be thankful for that.”

I did think about that afterwards. We’re at the age now where we go to far more funerals than weddings, and that corny phrase that says “every day is a gift” isn’t quite as corny as it used to be.

And then came the Vegas shooting.

When I woke up Monday morning and turned on the news, I was, as probably everyone else, dumbfounded it had happened again. As the story unfolded and the injured numbers and death toll kept rising, I started contacting my friends in Vegas. One had a niece who was at the concert, and she got out with only some bruises from the chaos and the running.

One friend had been there 45-minutes before the shooting started. Another was leaving Vegas and got stuck on the freeway onramp as the first responders came rushing to the scene. She was seeing ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars and had no idea what was going on.

One, a flight attendant, said he was confused because the plane wouldn’t land and just kept circling the airport. He said as he and the crew were walking out, the airport shut down, and he found out there was an active shooter on the Strip.

As the dead are being identified and their stories come out, we’re seeing once again lives ended or left in tatters from another senseless shooting. We don’t know the extent of the over 500 injuries or what the healing will entail. There will once again be memorials and vigils and heated debates on gun control. But as always, the humanitarian side rises up. There are stories after stories of people helping strangers, pulling them to safety, stopping the bleeding, dressing wounds, and getting them help.

First responders ran into the rain of bullets as the concert fans ran out. People opened homes, hotels offered shelter, and the community rallied together.

That’s what I hold onto during these tragedies…whether it’s a hurricane, flood, fire, quake, or some freakish shooter…our humanity always rises up. Once more people acted as one…no politics, no racial or religious barriers…it was simply people helping people.

As the pictures of the victims roll across my television screen and I see how many young people were shot, I remember my husband’s words, and I realize they won’t be here for their hair to turn gray, my heart breaks.

But when I hear how humanity rose up in the face of a shattering catastrophe yet again, it’s a balm to that heartache. It reminds me of all the good in our country, our people, and our collective hearts as Americans. Oh, we have our problems and issues, and we’re a vastly divided country right now, but when it matters, when the odds are against us, we will all stand together every time.

At the root of all of the current controversies America faces these days, I believe we are a people of kindness and love. And love is a powerful thing. There’s no gray area about that.

I’m just saying…

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