A Conversation with My Daughter

November 25, 2018

On Monday afternoon one of my daughters, Kara, called me. There was a sense of urgency as well as desperation in her voice. “Do you see what’s going on at Mercy Hospital?” Mercy is a southside Chicago general medical center chartered as the first hospital in the city, I’ve learned in the last few days, in 1852.

“Some asshole just shot a doctor and a cop!”

With that I flipped on the television and there it was all over the local news.

Here’s the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of this attack.

Another maniac with a gun shooting innocents for reasons that only make sense to the crazed killer.

Throughout the day we found out that the shooter, who was killed by the police, confronted a woman he was once engaged to, an emergency room doctor. Her name is Tamara O’Neal and she was 38. Also killed was a rookie Chicago police Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28. The killer then entered the hospital and shot and killed 24-year-old pharmacy resident Dayna Lessa as she stepped off an elevator.

Kara is a nurse at a Trauma One Hospital in the Chicago area. She had to work the next day at 7 a.m.

After work she called me again. Now her mood was different. My daughter was pissed.

Her first words, as I said my hello were, “This douchebag!! Because someone broke up with him decides to handle this breakup by killing the woman and anyone he could find??? A woman who obviously has a family, friends and people who love her. The people she worked with I’m sure loved her. And did you hear about the cop?! He’s 28, married, four kids! What the f*ck is wrong with people? Then some poor girl just getting off an elevator, just stepping off with a life, not thinking anything, she’s shot for no reason. She got on the elevator with a plan, thoughts, feelings and when the door opens, she’s dead, gone! What about her family and friends?”

She continued, realizing that I could relate to what she said and was about to say.

“You know dad, everyone of those people this asshole shot were in the helping profession. All of them. They decided their life’s work was to help other human beings and this guy decides to just kill them! In a hospital where people are supposed to be safe, a place that takes care of them. And you know what? When the shooting started that cop went into help and I guarantee when the word went out every nurse and doctor in that hospital were willing to risk their lives to protect everyone else in that hospital!”

She breathed for a second and continued.

“And you know what, I’ll bet, people who knew the doctor and that pharmacist had to work on the guy who shot them. And you know what else? They did it! How the hell do you think that must have felt?”

I said a few words about how she was feeling, but I’m not sure she really heard them. My daughter needed to vent.

“That cop with four kids, he’s dead, they will never know their father. I know what that is like to think about that, my dad not making it home at night. Other cops, his friends showed up to find him shot, dying, maybe dead. The police chief of Chicago or commissioner, or superintendent, whatever he is—”

I interjected: “Johnson. Seems like a good guy, cares about his cops.”

She continued, “Yeah, did you see him, he’s choking up on TV. He wants to cry. You know why, because this rookie cop isn’t a uniform, he’s a person. Does anyone really think about what this does to the cops, to the medical people? Do they realize we are human? Have feelings? This devastates us?!”

Again, I pointlessly mumbled something.

“Dad, you know something else? When this happens at a business, a school, a church, they shut those places down for days, weeks, sometimes forever. They bring in counselors and try their best to deal with the situation, giving all those who need it time and space. But for nurses, doctors, cops, we can’t take that time, we have to work. Can you imagine if all the Chicago cops and all the medical people in that hospital just said, ‘I can’t handle this, let’s shut down for a couple for weeks so I can process my feelings?’ They can’t say that! They can’t even think it! They don’t think it! Because it can’t be done! They all have to work, right now, in the middle of all of this! All the violence, all the emotions, all the pain!”

I told her I understood that, being a cop for 30 years.

Kara ended with this.

“Thanks for letting me vent, I know you understand this. But do other people? Especially for cops. Seems like the only time you make the news is when someone thinks you did something wrong. You see the same morons on TV who think they know what they are talking about, condemning every cop in the country, saying terrible things about them. This kid was only 28. 28! Why did he become a cop? In this day and age? I’ll tell you why, the same reason you did, and why I’m a nurse and why that doctor became a doctor. To help people! No matter who they are!”

“You’re right.”

“I hope people start realizing this. Cops aren’t robots. They are people with families, they are human, and they go when no one else will. I gotta go. Gotta get up and go to the hospital tomorrow. Love you. Thanks.

“Love you, honey. Proud of you.”

“Proud of you too, dad.”


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