Jefferson City- How in the World Did This Happen?

I had gotten to Jefferson City after roughly ten hours in the car. I made a minor detour in Nebraska so I could cross from Nebraska into Missouri and cross a state border I had never crossed before.  I planned the same thing for the next night, so I could cross from Missouri into Kentucky.  Like normal, I got settled in my room and found the closest, nearest thing to a sports bar to have dinner, a beer, watch football, and talk to people.  I walked in and looked for the seat at the bar that gave me the best chance to get picked up.  There was a seat near a corner with a man on the right and a woman around the corner to the left with another seat between us.  I do not even remember how our conversation started.  Probably something about the football game.  I am not sure how the conversation got to this topic either, but, apparently, they had a mutual friend who had recently been shot in the head and killed.  I do not know exactly how well they knew this person, but it seems they were more than just hang-arounds at the same bar.  They spoke very highly of him, but kept their composure very well, which I was having trouble doing.  They were very nice people, and I felt incredibly bad for their friend.  I did not want to pry, so I asked very few questions and mostly gave brief condolences, but apparently their friend had been trying to break up a fight or something and got caught in the crossfire, so to speak.  
When they told me, they must have thought I looked like I had seen a ghost.  I could not believe what they had just told me, and I am certain it showed on my face.  They probably thought it was their story only, and that would have been enough for a similar reaction, but the chances are astronomical, and therefore meaningful to me, that I would sit next to these people and they would tell me about their friend.  Hard to believe, difficult to process, because about a month prior to arriving in Jefferson City, a youth with whom I worked at the job I recently left was shot in the head and was recovering in the hospital- recovering to never being able to walk to talk again, at best.  The coincidence is almost incredible, enough to convince me that I am on the right trip, that I am making the right decision for me and I am going where I can be the most benefit.  I hadn’t told anyone I know other than the people who already know, and I still have only told one or two close friends, because it is not my sympathy and I do not want people to feel sorry for me when this is not something that happened to me, so it felt good to have this conversation with my new friends.  I mostly listened, as I do in many conversations, and I would not have been able to say a whole lot anyway because I would have choked up and cried.  I know because I felt it, and it happened a few weeks earlier.  We were telling the rest of our youth what had happened and that we were there to support them.  It happened to also be my mother’s birthday- she passed away twenty years ago and that confluence of circumstances made everything difficult and emotional that day.  I could barely get past three words without getting incoherent, and I cried harder than I had in decades.  At the bar, we all felt each other’s sadness and confusion, and comforted each other through composure and friendliness.  But there was more.  There was this sense of mutual feeling, this feeling that, whatever is happening, we are not the only ones dealing with it, and, for us, an unspoken agreement that the worst of this was not happening to us.  We are fortunate to get to grieve for our friends, but go back to some pleasure, or distraction, or anything.  
Maybe nothing is nothing.  Like most conversations, this one could dissolve into the ether with no greater effect.  But I feel like this means I went on the right trip and happened into the right seat at the right bar for what we all needed, because nobody goes through anything so unique they cannot find fellow-feeling somewhere.  Life is confusing, and nobody has all of the answers to these kinds of situations, so when something like this happens, it is the kind of coincidence I pay attention to, the kind that makes a person believe in purpose, even if there is no meaning.
Written by prometheus5290
Author's Note
This is all true. I am working through drafts, but I want to be careful about protecting other people's privacy.  
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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