Don’t look away.
She could have been your child or mine.
Parenting is nothing but one long-held breath.
We inhale as we witness our heart detach from our chest and begin its journey in a world outside of us.
A world outside of our protection and control.
And we hold our breath till the day we die.
But what happens if that heart, that phantom limb, is taken away before we are?
How do we breathe?
There is a family in Los Angeles — a family that loved, fed and sheltered my own son, like he was one of their own — who is struggling with this question with every labored and impossible breath.
If you think this article doesn’t concern you, think again.
Brianna Kupfer, the shining star whose promising life was brutally snuffed out by a stranger who is the product of our social, political and legal system, could have been your child or mine.
We humans do this thing of distancing ourselves from tragedy by looking for differences between ourselves and the other. We find reasons why it couldn’t be us or our daughter or our neighborhood.
She went to school with my children. She went to college in her hometown. She ate dinner at home most nights. She lived in a “good” neighborhood (an oxymoron in Los Angeles) and worked in a high-end store on a street any of us could have been spending time in at 2:00pm on a Thursday.
Why was she alone in the store, you ask?
To that I respond, “Are you under the illusion that your 24-year-old adult child is always accompanied and protected?”
I worked in retail stores for decades, and yes, sometimes you are alone. There are lunch breaks and bathroom breaks, and now, people who wait for those moments to come in and take whatever they want.
When we have collectively created a city where individuals brazenly walk into stores on Rodeo Drive and walk out with the handbag of their choice, or into CVS and out with a bag full of goods as long as it totals less than $900 (confident that little to no consequence awaits them), how long before what’s taken is a life?
I write about life coaching, but today I have no advice and no coaching. Today, the only refrain in my mind is, “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”
Stand with a family who doesn’t yet know how to take the next breath.
No to coaching at this moment, but yes to life. Yes to taking any action, however small, to bring back the sanctity of life.
Only when you’ve stood for those who need you can you create the space to do something.
Hold Brianna’s family in your hearts in this time of truly unimaginable grief for them.