My parents live in a peaceful and sleepy suburb in what some consider upstate New York because of its location just north of Manhattan. It is a neighborhood where nothing ever happens, where you can still see stars at night, and where, more often than not, deer, bunnies, and the occasional turkey roam free.
By all intents and purposes, it is not the scene of a murder, but that’s precisely what happened last week when a man shot his wife before turning the gun on himself. Immediately news crews raced to the scene to get reports from the neighbors.
“I can’t believe it.”
“They were always out walking the dogs, hand-in-hand.”
“They were so nice.”
Isn’t that what they always say?
It made me wonder about the image we present in public and to the public. Maybe these two people did at one point love each other deeply. Any assumption beyond that is pure speculation on my part. I don’t know. I didn’t live in that house.
What I do know is that all of us are guilty of hiding behind smoke and mirrors every now and then; there’s no shame in that, but maybe it’s time we reel it in. Instead of putting on a charade to the neighbors (and to ourselves) we need to ask ourselves:
Am I happy?
Are we happy?
Is this relationship healthy?
Whenever I hear of a tragedy like the one last week in my parent’s neighborhood, I can’t help but think. What if this woman was more concerned with keeping up appearances than she was on her own health and wellbeing? What if she was terrified but didn’t know how to ask for help?
What if this could have been avoided?