THE BABY WENT OUT WITH THE WATER
"It destroyed my life," is how Mary Ann Vecchio said of the massacre at Kent State University in May of 1970. This was said during an interview she gave in 1990 for the 20th anniversary of the event. It wasn't that she was a big anti-war protester or part of a student movement. What she was, a 14-year old runaway who was at for her, the wrong place at the wrong time for her.
Reading the USA Today article on Kent State and the iconic photo of her emotional reaction to Jeff Miller's fallen body and trauma that it brought into her life, I could at once understand how she felt at one time that her life had been destroyed. As complicated as her life must have been prior to being at Kent State (she was from Florida and lives there now with her Mom), it REALLY had to become an overwhelming intruder in her life that she never expected to deal with.
It doesn't matter that she was already at risk as a teenage runaway. That was her choice. Did she mean to be a part of the war protest? I don't know. So I am conjecturalizing about how she suffered from a totally unintended consequence as a result of her trying to find herself in the world. And I am also sure that it took a bit of time after 1990 for her to come to grips with what Kent State did to her.
There are things that have happened in my neat, fairly bland and unassuming life that were like what Kent State was to Mary Ann. Events that all of the troubles of a life can be tied to and why I know that my tide has risen and fell without me setting sail for my fortunes.
Speaking about the details of what made for the difference in perspective over events doesn't seem to be of any benefit to me. All my attention is best paid to moving beyond things, be it my own guilt or any percieved transgression that I may have suffered.
I have never had any use for the emotional, dramatic, 'why' conversation. I don't wonder about 'what if' because whatever something could have been is lost to the unknown. It all went out with the tide.
Mary Ann carried the bitterness of what her role at Kent State for a long time. Imagine the weight of the consequence of her being there had on her life. Not only was her life trouble prior to the the massacre, the photo and the reaction she had to endure afterward had to be an incredible burden. She doesn't have to apologize for taking however long she took before she came to terms with the death of a life.
And neither do I need to apologize for taking until now to morn the death of mine.