I haven’t written the last two weeks due to travel. But this Thursday, I could really use a “get out of jail” card. Yet, I feel obligated to share the current conflict I am experiencing in regards to an unexpected loss. Today, many of us heard about the tragic shooting on the campus of Florida State University, where three students were injured and the gunman was killed. The gunman’s name was Myron May. That gunman was my frat brother. That gunman was my colleague. That gunman was my friend.
I first met Myron while serving on the board of the National Black Law Students Association, where he was by far one of the kindest, open-hearted persons I had met in my life. What’s funny about kind people is that sometimes, they are “unmemorable,” but not Myron. Even though those of us privileged to serve our legal student membership were balancing torts assignments while indulging in wild parties, scandals (way juicier than what’s on tv), and high-end socials, Myron was always kinda even-keeled. His presence really just made me feel one way, all the time. Happy.
Which is why I had the complete opposite reaction while crossing the street in a busy Brooklyn intersection earlier today. My buddy Nashaun sent me a text…asked me if I heard about Myron. I was confused, and told him that I hadn’t. Insert awkward pause. He then apologized for what he was about to share with me. And as I read the article about the tragedy, I checked for two things: 1) the state of the victims (and thank God, they are all alive); and 2) the misspelling of Myron’s name–because I was CERTAIN they had the wrong gunman. No misspelling. No mistake.
As an anti-gun, pro-black-man, urban advocate, “eff the police” chanter, and whatever blah-blah-blah label I might check while filling out an FBI application, I realized that my heart did have room to care for those who have committed the most unthinkable actions–and even actions I personally find unforgivable. Sure, I have always felt a spiritual obligation to “forgive others” and always believed that every human has a story worth telling. I also have been known to yell about our negligent attention on issues of mental illness–and even the impact that societal pressures can have on our otherwise “normal” state. But in all honesty, even those outcries are done with resistance and reluctance–and often for fear that if I ever go crazy (because we are all just one prayer away) that I would be given the same amount of grace from people that know me. But what about today? Why was I nervous that I unapologetically cried for Myron, and scrambled to figure out how he felt, and what was on his mind, before he started shooting?
That’s when you call mommy.
After speaking with my mom, she assured me that I need not need a reason to love another who has done a horrible act. She said, “We do not always know why people “act.” An action does not always warrant one to be labeled. Thank God that God alone knows the heart of a man. Myron may not have had the intention to kill. I just wish he knew that regardless of what his circumstances were, he had every intention to live. Know that a relationship with God is built for moments like this, and I wish he knew he was strong enough to get through whatever, with God’s help. But that does not mean God does not care for him, and that you shouldn’t either. Care for your friend.”
And that’s what I’m going to do. Myron, I am so sorry that whatever pain you experienced, whatever your final thought was, that an outlet was not there for you right when you needed it. I know that judgment comes, and without excusing your actions, I know that even remotely you are devastated by the pain you caused others, innocent in this tragedy. You have always been a man of accountability and fairness, and if injured, you know we would all be in that hospital room hugging you and cursing you at the same time. But with love, so many of us just want you to know that while we condemn your actions, we do not condemn the man. And thank you for opening all of our lives today and challenging us–reminding us that on the other side of a gun, there is a person with a family that will always love and cherish them. No matter what.
Whatever troubled you, Myron, rest in peace.