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Politics

Just a guy and the search for meaning

Kathleen Parker on

WASHINGTON -- The horror the horror.

The English language, expansive as it is, lacks sufficient vocabulary for the near-ceaseless popping sound of an automatic weapon pounding bullets into terrified people as they run away from and toward -- the unknown.

How do you express the inconceivable, the imponderable? You try to put yourself there. What would you have done? Run, but to where? Seek cover, but under what? Help others, but how? Survival was all anyone could hope for. Then what?

Guilt.

Survivors now speak of feeling guilty that they're alive while at least 59 others are not. Why were they alive? As reports of heroism flood in, they wonder: Did I do enough?

Brian Claypool, who spoke to CNN's Chris Cuomo, is one of these. Tuesday was Claypool's birthday and the concert had been his way of celebrating. He had meant to return to his home and family in Los Angeles on Sunday, but gazing out upon the venue from his hotel room, he decided to stay another night.

"When am I ever going to be able to do this again?" he recalled saying to himself.

Struggling with tears, Claypool wondered whether he should have died. He was on the run when a man signaled for him to dash into a small room under some bleachers. Five or six young women were huddled, sobbing, in a corner. Instinctively, Claypool stood in front of them, perhaps to protect them. Or was he supposed to go outside where others were falling?

It seemed clear during the interview that Claypool was still in shock and trying hard to make sense of what had happened, discovering his thoughts and emotions as Cuomo prodded him to dig deeper. If there's an Emmy for empathetic reporting and on-the-spot psychoanalytical investigation, Cuomo deserves it. Others watching CNN surely noted his remarkable ability to help his guests navigate the chaos of their personal trauma, offering words of solace and paternal wisdom.

Lisa Fine was another who tried to articulate what it was like to be suddenly transported from a happy evening of fellowship and fun to a nightmarish scrimmage in a war zone. She spoke of seeing people take a bullet and fall in front of her, of a truck loaded with bodies: "It was luck of the draw," she said of her survival. "There are no words. It was horrific."

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