On my way home from school, I passed the site of the massacre that occurred on Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. Wait. What?! Did I just say that? It’s almost unbelievable that something this horrific happened so close to home, but it did. It happened on Sunday. Two days ago. Still so fresh in our minds. Still lingering as a sadness in our hearts.
Instead of taking my normal route home, I drove down Howell Ave to see what the current activity was. There were still flashing squad car lights at the entrance of the drive to the temple. I really didn’t catch a glimpse of anything except for the trickle of people walking to and from and around the site. It was definitely not the normal flow of pedetrians and traffic in this area. As I peered around, I noticed a small congregation of people standing by a nearby memorial. They were huddled together as if they had a familiarness with each other. Some had turbans, so I assumed that they must be a part of the closely knit Sikh family. I pulled my car over to the opposite side of the road and sat for a minute. I wondered if I should get out. If I did, I wanted it to be out of respect rather than curiosity. I looked over again. I wasn’t sure how I would be perceived. It didn’t matter though. Humanity is what connected us. I wanted to silently say, from one human being to another, “I recognize this hate crime against you. I, along with many others, have been saddened and also affected by this horrific and deadly crime that took place at your doorstep.”
I stepped out of the car and respectfully approached the memorial. 5 pillars were staked into the ground, with offerings placed around each one. Each one bearing a wreath. I could hear the voices of the mourners around me but could not make out one word of what was being said. I stood in front of the first pillar, slightly bowing my head and looking at the name and age of the victim. A moment of silence in front of each one as I moved down the row. I’m thinking, I’m sorry that evil came to your peaceful home and snuffed out your life as if it was a steady flame that was sunk into water. May you rest in peace.
At the last pillar, I closed my eyes and said a small prayer, as if it came from all of us.
A prayer for healing to those so closely affected. A prayer to feel more love now that would exceed and overpower the hate that was directed towards this community so recently.
I am not good at speaking consolenses, so I opt to not say nothing and turn away feeling better to offer my silent condolenses than nothing at all.
- Memorial to victims of the Sikh Temple shootings