It was in the early hours last Monday morning as we were leaving for the airport when my husband said to me, “there’s been a shooting in Vegas.”
My first words were, “you mean, like a single shooter type of thing?”
He shook his head as he kept reading on his phone. The details kept coming in as we rode to the airport.
Biggest mass shooting in American history.
50+ people dead.
It happened on the Vegas strip. Where we were heading.
These details, over and over, as we were heading to the same place where it took place, incited a huge fear. Carefully held plans that we were counting on, were in the air. For awhile we wondered if we should change our trip, maybe reroute elsewhere? I had won this trip through Monat and there was to be a huge gathering in a couple of days.
Now it felt wrong to show up and celebrate.
Flying into Vegas not 14 hours after the shooting was surreal. You could see Mandalay Bay from the runway and the uncertainty was palpable in the air. We had been cut off from the news in the air, and not knowing the details was unnerving. We had previous plans to rent a car and drive out to the Grand Canyon, and I am glad we did. The strip was shut down and it felt wrong to be there. That time in the desert, hiking the Canyon and focusing on something that had been there for millions of years, feeling the peace of something so vast and grand? It was everything we needed.
By the time we made it back to Vegas, to our hotel just a couple of blocks from the tragedy, it was late Tuesday night. I was apprehensive driving back. Again, it feels weird going somewhere to have fun in a place that saw so much terror. I had watched the news the night before and got to see some of the stories of the survivors, and those that did not. Truthfully, I don’t watch the news that much. I’m not sure if I am too sensitive, or what, but hearing horrifying things really sticks with me for a long time. Yet I feel I owed it to those that suffered? I watched the various news clips and saw the faces of those lost and it still hurts, and will for a really long time. As it should.
The weird thing is, once back in the city and throughout the next two days of training and dinners and nights out, things are oddly and surrealy…normal. Life goes on, people continue with vacations, and those that work and live there just carry on. Even when you can see the shot out windows where the shooter sat, even when your Uber driver tells you he looks for the faces of those he dropped off at the concert a couple of nights before, life just continues. The showgirls preen in the street. The fountains at the Bellagio play on to happy music. The shows continue as if nothing happened. The only things different were the billboards saying, ” Thank you for being there,” and “#VegasStrong.”
I struggled with what to post, what to say, how happy should I seem? Because I was happy. And sad. And shocked. And struggling to figure out how I felt. There is no protocol for how to feel after a tragedy like that. You know how life has changed so completely for the people involved, and you feel so deeply for them, yet not much is different for you.
I wanted to help, somehow, but I couldn’t think of anything.
In the end we stayed at the Paris hotel, and enjoyed ourselves. Yet that enjoyment was not what we originally thought. It was tinged with sadness and fear and uncertainly. I am okay with that. The people who lost their lives and suffered deserve that. Yet I believe they most likely wouldn’t have wanted the person who took their lives to WIN. Fear can’t win. There will always be terror and tragedy and crazy people, unfortunately. Yet life goes on.
Being in Vegas last week was ultimately not what I thought it would be, but it was these things…surreal, sad, happy, fun, blissful, terrifying, uncertain, joyful. So many mixed emotions and feelings mixed up into one trip that I most likely will never forget, and for all the reasons I never fathomed before that Sunday night.