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What Matters Most

October 2nd, 2017. I wake with a start and grab my phone. 4 a.m. I glance at the email icon, hoping there aren’t too many more than had been there when I retired last night. I punch at the screen. Nothing. I stick my hands under my armpits, Mary Katherine Gallagher style, hoping this will bring my vampire-cold fingertips to a temperature my iPhone will register. After a minute or so I try again. Nada.

 

I get up and go to the kitchen, where I know I will find my husband tooling around on his laptop before he heads off to work, perusing Facebook or the news. Instead, I am shocked to see Gary speaking into the phone. He looks in my direction and mouths he is talking to Jake, our younger son. My husband and I are morning people; our two sons think dawn begins at 3 p.m.

 

“You’re talking to Jake? Why are you talking to Jake? What is Jake doing up at 4 a.m.? Did he pass out again? Is he hurt? Is he in the hospital?”

 

“He’s okay,” but I am not reassured by the look on his face.

 

It is far from a normal morning, yet I do all the same things I would have done had it been. I eat my breakfast in bed. I shower and slather moisturizer and sunscreen on my face, cover that with Givenchy CC cream and a little bit of blush and lip-gloss. They are right, whoever they are, less is more.

 

I walk the dogs. I look at my watch; I have twenty-five minutes until the morning conference call. I go to Starbucks. My decaf one pump mocha gets me through those meetings like a pacifier. It is eerily quiet. The people I encounter, subdued. We offer each other small, knowing smiles. No teeth, no genuine cheer. When my barista, Christian, asks how I am this morning I say I am well, but we both know that is not the truth.

 

Today is a deceptively perfect day in Las Vegas. Not too hot, not too cold: Goldilocks would approve. 76 degrees with a cerulean blue, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky vastness that reaches the ends of the horizon fading into the Spring Mountains; craggy peaks lined up like molars encasing the southwest valley, layered red rock, so plentiful to the north.

 

Big homes, fancy cars, exotic vacations, flat stomachs, expensive clothes, married to money, smooth faces, bulbous lips, private jets, everyone wins, kid named Hilton, kid named Cruise, there is no “I” in team, you must stand, you must kneel, politics, fake news, religion, skin color, war, hate, organic, gluten-free, block-buster, number one, selfies, Twitter, twerking, how many likes, fast food, convenience economy, texting, no touch, judgment, I think, I’m right, I deserve, me, me, me, me, me.

 

These are not the things that matter.

 

The last tarnish of innocence was wiped from the landscape of Sin City, when 58 people were senselessly murdered, and nearly 500 more were injured at an outdoor concert in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. modern history. 

 

Sonny Melton.

Rachael Parker.

Angela Gomez.

Sandra Casey.

Jenny Parks.

Neysa Tonks.

Susan Smith.

Bailey Schweitzer.

Jennifer T. Irvine.

Lisa Romero-Muniz.

Rhonda LeRocque.

Carrie Barnette.

Adrian Murfitt.

Charleston Hartfield.

Denise Burditus.

John Phippen.

Chris Roybal.

Thomas Day, Jr.

Hannah Ahlers.

Dana Gardner.

Jessica Klymchuk.

Jordan McIldoon.

Quinton Robbins.

Lisa Patterson.

Bill Wolfe, Jr.

Stacee Etcheber.

Christiana Duarte.

Dorene Anderson.

Heather Alvarado.

Jack Beaton.

Cameron Robinson.

Brennan Stewart.

Michelle Vo.

Rocio Guillen Rocha.

Melissa Ramirez.

Erick Silva.

Austin Davis.

Kurt Von Tillow.

Chris Hazencomb.

Victor Link.

Kelsey Meadows.

Calla Medig.

Tara Roe Smith.

Austin Meyer.

Jordyn Rivera.

Candice Bowers.

Derrick "Bo" Taylor.

Brian Fraser.

Denise Cohen.

Laura Shipp.

Carly Kreibaum.

Steve Berger.

Keri Galvan.

Patricia "Pati" Mestas.

Andrea Castilla.

Teresa Nicol Kimura.

Brett Schwanbeck.

Carrie Parsons.

 

The walking wounded.

 

They are what matter most.

 

 

 

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