Hitting close to home

Published 9:23 am Sunday, June 26, 2022

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You never think it will happen in your backyard, but then it does.

That’s what is so unique about tragedy–it doesn’t pick and choose what community to destroy.

On Thursday, June 16, nobody inside of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in the Cahaba Heights area of Vestavia Hills thought they were about to experience a tragedy, but their lives soon changed forever.

During a potluck dinner, a man in attendance, who was reported to have been sitting by himself and disengaged from the rest as an occasional attendee of the church, pulled out a gun and shot and killed three members of the church.

Those who died from the tragedy were Sarah Yeager, 75, of Pelham, Walter “Bart” Rainey, 84, of Irondale, and Jane Pounds, 84, of Hoover.

It was a senseless and disgusting act that hit very close to home for many residents of Shelby County and the Birmingham-metro area.

Just weeks after a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, everybody’s thoughts and prayers have been focused on that tragedy.

Not many fathomed it could happen in their own backyard, much less a potluck dinner at an Episcopal church in Vestavia Hills.

Sadly, it is part of a new norm where we have to always be vigilant to the idea that the unthinkable could happen no matter where we are.

How often do you find yourself now out at a gathering such as a movie, church, a play, a concert, etc. and the first thought that crosses your mind is, “Where is the nearest exit and what is my plan if someone here does start to shoot?”

It’s a reality that has become more normal to society now, which is a sad truth to admit.

And we can argue until we are blue in the face about gun control, mental health and other ways of stopping it, but the worst part of it all… there really is no way to prevent it in today’s world.

Somebody willing to do something as tragic as this is sadly not in the frame of mind to take a step back and talk themselves out of it, regardless of the difficulty to get a weapon or the fear they might feel. They’ve gotten to the point of justifying it in their mind, and at that point, nothing else matters.

Now, that thought process has taken three of the sweetest people by all accords.

None of them deserved what happened on June 16, none of the others in attendance deserve to live with the post-traumatic stress, none of the families deserve the pain they are feeling, none of the other church members deserve to be in mourning at their own church, and nobody, ever, deserves to have this happen.

Once again, we sit in the wake of a tragedy wondering, “Why?”

This time, too close to home, as many Shelby County residents attend the church and one, sadly, lost their life.