Einstein, Gun Death Grief, and the Environment

NBC NEWS -- Pictured: Small pieces of police tape left behind at the wooded site in Ft Myers, Florida, where eight sets of hu
NBC NEWS -- Pictured: Small pieces of police tape left behind at the wooded site in Ft Myers, Florida, where eight sets of human bones were discovered -- On March 23, 2007, the skeletal remains of eight humans were discovered in a melaleuca forest in Ft Myers, Florida. Approximately 90 percent of each body's bones were recovered. Now police investigators, forensic anthropologists and other scientific experts are working to unravel the mystery of who these people were in life, and what brought them to this final resting place. Current science suggests all eight were men, between the ages of 18 and 49, who died some time between the years 1980 and 2000 -- Photo taken in Fort Myers, Florida on July 2, 2007 (Photo by Stephanie Himango/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

According to Albert Einstein, "(1 - (U/c)2)1/2 (U=speed, c=speed of light)." For those of who are not fluent in mathematics or physics, especially me, that translates roughly as, "time is elastic." It can expand, contract, bend, twist and fold back on itself.

This is particularly true with the never-ending grieving process of having a loved one taken from you by gun violence.

It's been a year since my niece, Becca, was murdered in her college room by the guy she'd just broken up with. A year since he shot her to death in her sleep then turned the gun on himself -- another "good guy with a gun" who wasn't.

Einstein comes in because we generally measure that year as the 365 days that have passed since she was killed. To me, with my own theory of relativity, it feels like yesterday: 1 year ago = 1 day ago. Time folds back on itself.

A year ago Becca was set to change the world. Make it better. And Becca could have. She was majoring in global sustainability with a co-major in geographic information systems.

To Becca the earth was something sacred. Something to be nurtured for the benefit of all. Not to be exploited and plundered for the financial benefit of a few. It was why during the summer she worked tirelessly and with extraordinary passion on a sustainable organic farm. She worked the machinery, tended the livestock, planted and harvested the crops. It was why anyone whose life Becca touched knew bringing her flowers was a seriously cringe-worthy offense. Those flowers were raised for one purpose -- someone's vanity. But a plant? Bring it on.

A plant could be loved, fed, watered. It could grow and live. Keeping that plant alive meant it kept giving back in beauty. That was Becca. Always beautiful, always filled with radiance and life, always giving of herself and never asking for very much in return. Becca often had an empty pet carrier in her car. If she ever came across a stray that needed help finding its way back home, she'd be the one to help. 1 year ago = 1 day ago.

Becca and I would sometimes talk about the way of the world. One question that would come up would be: do politicians -- today I'm thinking Ted Cruz, Trey Gowdy , Donald Trump, and Orrin Hatch , and mega-business guys like the Koch brothers -- get their air and water from some alternate Einsteinian space/time universe?

The answer's got to be, "Yes." Because otherwise they wouldn't block legislation that would clean up and protect our air and drinking water, wouldn't want to shut down the EPA and wouldn't keep funding climate change denial efforts. Apparently financial gain at the expense of the rest of us and political expediency trump keeping the environment from poisoning our children. A vision of Flint, Michigan, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the deadly drinking water from the Flint River just popped into my head.

I believe this is the depressing way of our country. I also believe this is just some of what Becca would have dedicated her life to changing. She can't. But we can. Because the rest of us do not get our air and water from an imaginary Ted Cruz/Donald Trump/Koch brothers alternative universe. The alien air we breathe and potentially lethal water we drink is all too real. The damage we have done to our planet, and continue to do, is also all too real. And ultimately the damage is not to the Earth, it's to ourselves and our children.

Becca used to say, "Go outside no matter what and sit. Wait for a while until you sigh and can't think of anything else. Have a good time." Those are beautifully insightful and heartfelt words from such a young woman who was so wise beyond her years and who was such a deeply thoughtful and caring old soul. Unfortunately two shots from a .357 magnum made certain that at 21 years of age Becca's wise, loving and caring heart was stopped forever.

Most of us know we are better than the political and environmental corruption that's killing our planet and sickening our children. We, together and as individuals, can do something about this. So go outside no matter what and sit. Take it all in and sigh. And then get up and try to make a difference. Make sure we'll all be able to go outside and sit and have a good time for generations to come. And not have to breathe tainted air, not have to drink water so toxic it catches fire and not have to suffer through manmade earthquakes .

On this anniversary of Beeca's death -- 1 year ago = 1 day ago -- I am hopeful that as her legacy lives on it will inspire others to the right thing. Ask yourself, "What would Becca do?" Do that and our planet will be in good, caring hands. If not, one day we all might have to drink flaming stuff flowing from our faucets. You want ice with that?