Stunned. Still processing. Still don’t know all the facts, let alone the bigger answers like, “Why?” or worse, “What if I had been there? What if my children had been there?”
The Martin’s Super Market on East Bristol Street in Elkhart was the site of a triple-fatal shooting Wednesday night. Three people were shot and killed in the grocery store, one of them the shooter of the other two who was then taken out by adept Elkhart police officers.
For news coverage, see The Goshen News any time over the last few days. Or Facebook. Or national or international news.
I was driving home from the hospital — from the intensive care unit where trauma victims often end up, ironically — and saw my grocery store bathed in police-car lights. Curious. It’s been a few years since I’ve covered crime scenes or listened to police scanners, but my trained eye knew that kind of police presence meant something more than a shoplifting call.
“Maybe a bomb scare,” I thought and motored past.
Though I was tired and eager to be home, I lamented for a second that I wasn’t on duty either at the newspaper or the hospital, both places where there’s a slight advantage in being among the first to know what’s going on in the world.
Once home, I checked Facebook and saw the news: A shooting. At Martin’s? A shooting? At my Martin’s? A shooting. Right there at my Martin’s.
I thought of that Martin’s, my regular grocery store and a favorite coffee stop and study nook for me. I thought of my children with me in the checkout line, me corralling them away from the candy bars so we could pay and get home.
This Martin’s, my Martin’s, even has childhood memories for me: My middle-school buddies will remember riding bikes there when it was Wilt’s, and then called the less-respectable “Bacon Hill,” for milkshakes at Judd Drugs next door.
I was shaken, but I managed to sleep, waking up eager for more information.
Thursday morning the news began to come out: A frightening-looking man who was the shooter, the amazing city police force that shot him and the two women who were murdered, one of them about my age.
“Wonder if I knew her?” I thought. Pretty good chance I would.
Then I paused: That could have been me. And it could have been me not just in the nebulous, “You-never-know-when-it’s-your-time” manner, either, but because me stopping at Martin’s on my way home from the hospital to grocery shop without four children in tow is not at all uncommon.
That really could have been me.
I read more news accounts. I checked people’s Facebook pages. I called a friend whose daughter had been at Martin’s just hours beforehand. I talked to my husband. I talked to my children. I thought.
And I grew more anxious.
Then I heard the name of the 44-year-old victim, Rachelle (Bossnack) Godfread, may she rest in peace. Turns out I had known her. She was three years ahead of me in high school, and her father had been my teacher. Not well, but I knew her.
And I grew more anxious.
I called my editor with offers to help with sources for stories. And then, finally, I sat still for a moment. I looked up at my husband and said, “I feel like crying, and I don’t know why.”
In retrospect, that statement sounds ridiculous. Of course it’s normal to cry because of sad or senseless or tragic stuff. But I couldn’t claim any real closeness with the victims, and even though I could have been there, I was not there. I merely drove by an hour later. So, why the emotion? It stymied me some.
“Because you have a soul, Steph,” my wise husband said, “and you’re feeling it.”
And I’m going to leave this column pretty much right here. No dissertations about mental health resources or lack thereof, gun control issues or the sobering fact that we are becoming indifferent to what should be absolutely shocking violence. People, maybe I, will certainly pick up those and other issues and sad or heroic or bittersweet stories from this event.
But not me, not today anyway.
Today I just want to say I feel it. I feel this.
Following advice I would give to others, I went straight to my psychiatric nursing instructor and said, “I need to talk.” I talked to her, but I also needed to hear from her that it was OK — even normal — to feel it. Thankfully, she confirmed — or “validated” — with what I guess you would call a psych speech: Normal to feel it.
So, even though I’m a very peripheral part of it all, I feel it.
And it hurts.
Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”