Joy and Sorrow

26 07 2015


In the space of one week; a joyful reunion of old friends and then a few days later, gunshots shatter our joy and fill us with sorrow.

Joy and Sorrow. Communities coming together to laugh and dance, and to weep and grieve.

High school reunions are like nothing else. It brings back with a rush the laughter, awkwardness, insecurities and innocence of our younger selves. With drinks in hand, we remind each other of long forgotten memories. We renew friendships that have slipped away and we feel the affection with long, deep hugs.

The storytelling and laughter rise above the band playing our favorite 70’s songs. By the end of the night, everyone is on the dance floor moving like we did at our Senior Prom. Many of us have maintained a handful of precious friendships over the decades, but many of us had not seen each other in 40 years. Yet we still remain a community. We can see our youth again, past the extra pounds, and greying and thinning hair. And we are all grateful for our name tags that have our high school photos on them.

A few days later, while basking in the glow of reconnected classmates; a shooting happens. The movie theater where lives are forever shattered is less than an hour from where we danced the night away. Lafayette is now home to some from that Class of 1975. All of us have spent time in this south Louisiana town that was voted the happiest place in the country. There’s a quintessential Louisiana phrase, “laissez le bon temps rouler.” It means “let the good times roll” and no where does the phrase come to life more than Lafayette.

We are all interconnected in south Louisiana. My work intern rushed to console friends who were sitting on the same theater isle as the shooter. I had a long conversation with another friend who was broken-hearted over the death of artist and musician, Jillian Johnson. Jillian’s band, the Figs were scheduled to play at a Fall party at my friend’s camp a few miles from Lafayette on the mighty Atchafalaya River. My sweetie’s adult children grew up in Franklin, the same small town where the beautiful, 21-year old college student, Mayci Breaux grew up. We have another phrase down here, “Who’s your momma and dem”. It’s how we connect because we know there’s just one degree of separation between us.

The murderer was not from our community—but just like the shooter in Charleston—he would have been welcomed. We love to share our culture down here with our great food, ice-cold drinks, music and dancing.

The hate group Westboro (I won’t call them a church) has threatened to disrupt the funerals with its evil since the shooter was a supporter of their particular brand of hate. Fifteen thousand have pledged to shield the families from another horror. There’s a call to show the world the beautiful gumbo pot of South Louisiana. Black and white and Indian and Cajun and Creole and young and old and conservative and liberal will hold hands to shield our community from hate.

I’m admittedly often frustrated by many things in my beloved deep South. But we have something here that is special…deep community. Maybe because we know we’re just one hurricane away from tragedy that we live our life with extra zest.

Together we attend our graduations and reunions, weddings and funerals, births and deaths, together. We are all interconnected in this web of life. We are one community.


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10 responses

26 07 2015
Juanita McGregor

Kahlil Gibran is one of my all time favorites and as much as I enjoy all your post, Ma’am, you outdid yourself with this one. Bravo!

27 07 2015

Thanks Juanita. I always appreciate your kind comments.

27 07 2015

I love our community. I am amazed, but not surprised, at how we have come together to honor these two beautiful lives that were lost. My good friend was in the first row. I could have lost him. I am counting my blessings every day. God bless Lafayette, Franklin, and all of Acadiana.

27 07 2015

A big ole Louisiana hug to you and your family and friends. My heart is broken too.

27 07 2015

I love your love for your people.
I’m so sorry for your loss, for the loss of your people, because the loss of any town is a loss to the state, the nation, and to the planet.
I heard on my local news that one person who died grew up in my town. So tragic. So wrong.

27 07 2015

Thanks Susan, I do love my South Louisiana and am so heartbroken over this awful shooting.

27 07 2015

This is very beautiful. It was so sad and so unnecessary.
The only person I ever knew from Lafayette left to become a famous singer/song writer. She succeeded. I’ve been hoping all week she writes about this as she has written about her boyfriend who killed himself with a gun, and my boyfriend who she introduced me too and did the same.
I know the family of the murderer rushed to call him “mentally ill.” No he was evil. When are we going to understand that. And Southerners and guns–yuck–that’s just a personal thing and I love the South very much.

27 07 2015

Pia, he was evil and I hope that some day we wake up and learn that we need sensible gun laws and the answer to gun violence is not more guns.

28 07 2015
Lisa Garon Froman

Connie, I know this came from the heart.

28 07 2015

Lisa, you know it.

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