I've never met the little boy named James who died on Friday in Sandy Hook Elementary. But when I heard President Obama read his name, I thought, oh, yes, James. That's the little boy I know about.
I know about James because I'm friends with Alyssa. I became Facebook friends with Alyssa through a blog on which we both commented and liked what the other said. Sometime during this past weekend, when we were all still reeling from the events in Newtown, a friend of Alyssa's commented on one of the threads we were weaving that the nephew of a friend of her's, a little boy named James, was one of the victims.
I live in Seattle, Washington. My people are all from the Midwest. One brother lives in Vermont, but I have no relatives and know few people from the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard. But now I know that a little boy named James was killed by an inconceivably troubled young man. And I know somebody who knows somebody who. Who knows that little boy.
Earlier this year, I happened to check my e-mail one evening and was puzzled by a message from an old friend of mine currently living in San Diego. The message read, "Barbara, are you all right?"
I had no idea what he was talking about. It turned out that there had been a shooting here in Seattle at a place called the Cafe Racer. Some of the victims were members of a local band. Some of the news footage showed a poster advertising that this band was going to or had played at the Blue Moon Tavern. JR and I have both been habitues of the Blue Moon. Hence, "Barbara, are you all right?" All the way from San Diego.
I did not know any of the victims, but I knew people who knew them. And I knew one man who was there that night - the hero who threw bar stools at the shooter and saved the lives of others besides himself. The thread ran from the Blue Moon to San Diego and back home again.
A good friend of mine here is from Colorado. She graduated from Columbine. Long before the tragedy that name conjures up now.
So many chance meetings this year have brought me to know of a little boy named James. I know people who know people who mourn for him. And now the thread that runs through his life runs through mine - and now through yours. I mourn for James.