There is a famous song from the late Stevie Ray Vaughn called “The Sky is Crying.”
That is how it feels behind this keyboard, on this dreary, rainy Tuesday morning after the passing of Everett Gant.
Gant, 32 and father of a young daughter, died in Bay Medical Center on Monday night, having never regained consciousness after being shot in the head six weeks, to the very day, before.
He passed with his family remaining vigilant after a long, brutal ordeal and passed away without really knowing how many lives he touched.
How deeply sad.
For during a career that has only sporadically surprised, one of the truly stunning occurrences in my lifetime in newspapers has been the outpouring from people, on social media, the internet, letters, email, with signs on lawns or in front of shopping centers, reaching out and urging prayers and thoughts for Everett and his family.
The number of people he encountered and touched on this earth in such a short amount of time is truly amazing and a testament to the man, warts and all.
But today the sky cries.
Cries at the ignorance behind the circumstances that left Gant lying in a pool of his own blood on an apartment threshold.
Tears come from the hatred behind the words and actions described in the arresting affidavit, a document filled with vile words driven by thoughts and ideas that most of us, thankfully, find abhorrent.
The sky cries because a community has been scarred, has been lessened by the act of one man and how that single act, driven by a blind hatred all too prevalent in the world today, has left another dead, a life ended, a daughter without her father, a family without a brother, son, nephew, grandson, uncle.
It cries because in the end, all the thoughts and prayers that have been sent the direction of Everett Gant and family proved no match for mortality, a battle we seem to be waging far too much as a community recently as young people are taken far too early.
But if there is a glimmer, some light to be found in this senseless tragedy that took on more tragic proportions on Monday night, it is in a community’s response.
The candlelight vigil held in the days following the shooting that showed a community coming together to resist, with a kind of human Kevlar vest, the bullets of hatred that still ring through the air.
A vigil of common folks, of all ages and colors, coming together to say that the thoughts and ideas espoused by one white man before and after he gunned down a young black man do not reflect community values, not this community, not at this time in history.
There was light from the Lions Club of Port St. Joe, which immediately established and seeded a fund for the Gant family at Centennial Bank to help defray medical costs, which after six weeks are surely astronomical.
There is also light to be found in the reflections of a mother one month after her son was shot.
Gloria Gant, a hugely popular and superb teacher at Port St. Joe High School, stopped by this office between trips between home and the hospital one day in order to get something out.
She wanted, needed, to say something to the community that had tried to wrap their hands and hearts around her family and her son.
“People might read what happened here and think this is the most terrible place in the whole world,” Gloria said that day. “But I am here to tell you that is not true. This is a wonderful community, with warm, generous people who have been so kind and loving to us.
“This (incident) is not what this community is about. We just thank all the people who have reached out and supported us.”
That is Gloria and that was, in large measure, Everett.
Strong of spine, huge of heart, gentle of spirit, a son reflecting the values he was raised with, carrying them with him through life, no matter the ups and downs tossed in front of his path, self-inflicted or not.
And comfort can also be wrung from the outreach of people of this community and their refusal to accept the terms under which Everett left this world. Here is but a sampling in the hours after his death was announced, left on The Star Facebook page.
And this is just a sampling:
Cee White – “this is so sad to hear”;
Barrett Lowry – “Praying for the Gant family”
Jake Richards – “Prayers with the Gant family. I’m so glad that the ignorance of (the shooters) actions and in some of the comments do not reflect how our community as a whole responded. Nor does it reflect on how the impact that Everett’s life had on others.”
Sherrin Hill – “Praying for the Gant family. What a terrible loss.”
Woodyard Princess Adams – “My heart is heavy right now.”
Debbie Boatright – “My thoughts and prayers go out to the Gant family and to all his friends and he had a lot. Just breaks my heart that is happened to such a special person that everybody loved. Heavy heart right now.”
Veronica Barrington – “This is so sad to hear … This is the time that Port St. Joe should still stand strong for this family in spite of this senseless and evil act…”
Kelly Johnson Parrish – “Yes, how we all shake our heads … how any human being could be so filled with hate.”
The sky is crying this Tuesday morning.