Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown's children walk past the street where a neighborhood shooting took place the night before.

It was Tuesday afternoon, and I was completing a 6-mile run after what was a difficult day. Just the evening before, there was a shooting a block away from my home where two men exchanged gunfire. In an altercation that is still being investigated, 15 to 20 gunshots were exchanged, with both men being sent to the hospital with serious injuries.

As a new member of the community, having only lived here a couple of months, I worried about where we lived. I feared for the safety of my family.

I thought back to earlier in the day when I had found out about the shooting. My eighth-grade son texted me from school, telling me what had happened. And, sure enough, when I went to the local news site, there it was: a picture of my neighborhood, front and center as the top news story.

As I picked him up from the junior high and my other kids from the elementary school, I decided to walk rather than drive because the street from the junior high to the elementary is where the shooting took place.

I wanted my children to walk past where the altercation happened so they could see and feel the devastation, but also so they could see and feel that, just hours afterward, everything was OK.

I wanted to replace their fear with love.

As we walked, we talked about how sad things happen in happy places, and our neighborhood had brought our family so much happiness. After our walk, we went to our favorite trampoline place and out for ice cream.

I felt I had handled the situation the best I could, but as I neared the end of my run, I was feeling uneasy myself. Were we really safe? Did we choose the right place to move our family?

Rather than continuing straight home, I decided to turn down the street past the school where the shooting took place. As I did, I noticed a car stopped in front of the house where the altercation began, which by this time had orange police paint marking where each bullet had been.

As I looked at the car, I noticed a kind older woman from my block. In fact, she was the first person to welcome us to the neighborhood with a warm plate of dinner from the church Christmas party. I wanted to wave to catch her attention, but I noticed a somber look on her face.

Rather than getting out of the car right away, she sat in a thoughtful, almost prayerlike way, motionless for several seconds. I passed her car without saying a word or giving a wave, but, as I turned the corner, I looked over my shoulder to see that she was walking toward the doorstep, carrying a gift for the family.

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As I returned home, all fear left me, and I was filled with love — love for the families of both men involved and love for my own family. More than that, at that very moment, I was filled with love, gratitude and hope for the people and community of Payson, Utah.

And I'm proud to call this town my home.

Arianne Brown is a mother of eight who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at [email protected] Twitter: A_Mothers_Write