Tonight, in the community adjacent to mine, a family is missing their son because he went to school, was shot, and never came home.
Tonight, they didn’t get to have a family dinner the way we did. They won’t get to say goodnight the way we did. Their lives are different because their son went to school, was shot, and never came home.
Each time this happens, I become increasingly calloused. I shun social media for a bit and switch my nightly podcast from NBC Nightly News to something less real. I hope that the coverage fades quickly and that we can all go back to forgetting such horrors are possible until it inevitably happens again and I’m sucked back into a vicious cycle of Feel and Forget. This was easier when I wasn’t a mom. It was easier when the thought of losing a child didn’t feel so tangible, didn’t feel like it could happen at a moment’s notice on a Tuesday in May.
I was a resident of Colorado when the Aurora Theater shooting happened. We live 5 minutes from Columbine High School – we spend a lot of time in the park nearby. Last month, I watched as helicopters circled a nearby neighborhood looking for Sol Pais. I waited patiently with both kids inside my pediatrician’s office as the building went on lockdown, police scaling the foothills outside our window. I learned later she bought her weapon a few blocks from our home. Surely, her ride-share driver passed my home on the way to Mt. Evans. This afternoon, in a community adjacent to mine, a student opened fire on a K-12 school in one of the most affluent neighborhoods around, killing one and injuring several others.
Maybe it’s a culmination of all these things in just a few weeks that has me with filled with anxiety. Maybe it’s bad timing or a bad stroke of luck. Those are the things I tell myself when I’m trying to fall asleep at night, when in reality I know it’s neither timing, luck or coincidence. It’s because there’s a problem with the way we’re failing to address the issue. It is not just gun control, or mental health, or appropriate policy and procedure. It is all of those things and none of them at the same time. The issue is that our children go to school, get murdered, and nothing changes. And while some may argue that change has happened, I’d counter that if something had really changed…a Highland’s Ranch family would have their son at home tonight.
I am not naive in thinking this issue isn’t enormous, and that a lot of people, places and things are going to have to work together to make change happen. Quite frankly, I don’t have a lot of faith in that. I don’t have any faith, actually. I’ve watched our People in Power swirl and distract for the last several years without doing anything but offering their thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers are nice until they become nothing but a scapegoat for action.
So, here’s my question – as I continue to pound on my innocent keyboard and cry into my wine - what do I do? What can any of us actually do? I’ve been throwing around ideas with my girlfriends all afternoon and so far, we’ve got:
Move to Norway
Quit our jobs and homeschool our children
Let our anxiety win, go crazy, and end up in jail
While no idea is a dumb one, those are all pretty close. And they do nothing to address these feelings of fear and panic I feel knowing that in three short years, I’ll drop Carter off at a public school and just cross my fingers that a kid there isn’t having a bad day. I have three years to figure out how to come to peace with the lack of control I’ll have over my child’s well-being while he’s away from me. Three years to figure out something good to do with this anxiety; somehow channel it to affect change, do good and build a better community.
So, my question stands – what the hell do we do?