Last night I found myself up until about 2AM reading news reports and Facebook posts about the shooting in Lafayette, and I have not been able to detach myself from the computer today. Friends and family have all been accounted for, but making sense of it all is far from over. And maybe that's what I'm doing...trying to make some sense from this.
Lafayette has always been more "home" to me than where I was born. My father's family still resides just south of there where I myself own land, and I would spend my summers on the farm with my grandmother until two years ago when she passed away. When my father died, it was the first place I wanted to be. Because Acadiana is a place unlike anywhere else. I am often reminded of this when I've been away for a while and then walk into an establishment...any establishment...grocery, retail, gas station, bank...I'm not just greeted by a "smile," but by genuine people having genuine conversations. By people who see my maiden name (and know how to spell and pronounce it), ask who my family is, and then proceed to tell me they went to high school, played with, lived down the street from them.
Lafayette is about community. A group of people who will do anything for each other in times of need. During Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, I remember report after report on the news of someone taking a pirogue down the bayou, tools from the shed, sweat off their backs to help one another. After Lily, my family gathered on our property and cleared trees, fallen branches, and then sat on the porch to drink a beer.
What hurt me last night is knowing that in a place of hundreds of thousands of people, at least one of my friends would know one of the victims (and, after this morning, I've come to find out the number is quickly rising). Because despite its numbers, Lafayette is a strong community. People know one another. Celebrate one another. Support one another.
This "man" came in and devastated a town, a community, and today my heart goes out that community I know and love. I know that in the next few days you will be searching for answers, saying your prayers, wondering "why" this had to happen and continues to happen...again...and again...and again. I am searching for those answers myself.
I know that in the next few days, you will come together as you have done time and time again. In each other's kitchens, under the carport, in the Parc. For those of us who can't be there, our thoughts are with you.
My heart goes out to you, Acadiana. Stay strong...as you have done time and time again.
Je T'aime, Lafayette.