Friday, December 31, 2010

Make This Christmas Thing Last

Last night we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  The tickets for the concert were a Christmas gift from my sons.  I love the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and really enjoyed the concert.

The Palace is a large venue for a concert in my opinion.  There were so many people there that it was a bit overwhelming for me at first.  It is the same stadium where the Detroit Pistons play basketball, and it was filled to the rafters with people last night.  We really enjoyed the concert.  Traveling there, however, was another matter.  The drive there reminded me of something that I already know.  I am NOT a city girl.  Give me small town life in the midst of farm country any day over life in a big city.

There was a lot of traffic.  We got snarled up in it and inched along for quite a while.  We didn't know why the cars were backed up at first, but eventually we came upon the reason.  There had been an accident.  We don't know what happened or how many vehicles were involved, but when we came upon it, there was a semi truck  left across the road in front of us blocking all three lanes of the northbound traffic, one of which was our lane. So all three of our lanes were being funneled into a single lane which then had to go off the road and onto the berm to get around the wrecked semi truck.  No wonder the traffic was backed up so far!  

Once we got past that spot, things went along pretty well for a while until we missed a turn.  It was dark by this time and there didn't seem to be many signs or street lights where we were driving, so it wasn't easy to find our way.  Eventually, we got back on course and got into more heavy traffic around Detroit.  No accidents this time, just a lot of cars.  We finally arrived at the stadium, and we were glad to be there.

As I said we really enjoyed the music at the concert.  They played many of their Christmas songs that were familiar to me.  I especially liked some of the lyrics of one song in particular that I hadn't heard before.  The song is called "Old City Bar."  It is a rather long song, but you can listen to it at that link if you haven't heard it and wish to do so.  There was one part of the lyrics that I especially liked.  These are the words:

"If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it 
If we could somehow make this 
Christmas thing last 

By helping a neighbor 
Or even a stranger 
And to know who needs help 
You need only just ask."

Those seem like good words to live by to me.  Those in the audience at the concert were quite appreciative of the music and the words, and everyone seemed caught up in the spirit, not only of that song, but of all of them.  The feeling of good-will was almost palpable to me.

Traffic on the way home was much lighter and easier to manage.  We made good time going home and got back into our town just a little after midnight.  We noticed a helicopter landing on the pad at the hospital and thought that seemed a little unusual at that hour on a Thursday night.  Although patients are regularly transferred from our hospital to a larger one in either Toledo, Ohio or Fort Wayne, Indiana, those types of transfers are usually done during the day.  The helicopter at night usually is the result of an emergency or an accident of some sort.  

We didn't think too much about the helicopter other than taking note of it.  Then we saw a car blocking the side street in front of our local police station as we drove by it.  That seemed strange to us too.  We couldn't figure out why that car was there.  It just seemed odd and out of place there.  Both the police station and the hospital are just a few blocks from our home, by the way.

This morning we heard on the news that someone had showed up at our local police station with a rifle and fired shots into the building.  This was the same police station building that we drove by last night.  We drove by about a half an hour after the incident had occurred.  The shooter left the scene but the police found him a short distance away.  He was brandishing an assault rifle and opened fire on the officers.  The ordeal ended when he was shot by a local police officer.  The police officers weren't injured.  The man was life flighted out in that very helicopter that we saw at the hospital when we returned on our way back from the concert.  The last I heard he was in critical condition.  This is one of the local news reports about the incident if you want to listen to it.

The rumor is that this man's daughter died as a result of a motorcycle accident here last May. Some say that he hasn't been able to come to terms with her death and feels that the local police are responsible for what happened to her.  She apparently fell off a motorcycle that was being chased by the local law enforcement.  He blames the police for her death,  and that is why he showed up with the gun.  I don't know if that is true, but in any case, it is a sad story no matter how you look at it.

So the joy we experienced from attending the concert was tempered with the knowledge of this shooting in our little town that we might have literally driven right into if we had come home just a half an hour earlier.   A shooting that apparently may have come about because of a man whose soul was tortured with sadness from the death of his daughter and who had thoughts of revenge.

It made me think back to those lyrics from that song I mentioned above speaking about helping those who need it.  This man who arrived in our town with a rifle is someone who needed help, but apparently no one recognized it, or they knew and took no action.

So this year ends on a bittersweet note for me as I contemplate the events of the last 24 hours or so.  These events serve as a reminder to me that life is short, and that we should do our best to love one another as well as we are able.  We don't know what the next new day will bring to us or to those we love.  As we head into the new year,  I hope I can keep this in mind.  I hope like the song above says that I can also "make this Christmas thing last by helping a neighbor or even a stranger."

I hope this Christmas thing lasts for you and for those you love.  
Happy New Year, my friends.