Again . . . (not a piece on writing)
This morning, my husband got my older daughter out the door for school then came back into the bedroom where I was slowly stirring. Soon, I would be waking my younger daughter for her class camping trip, giving her breakfast, making sure everything was packed, and sending her out into the big wide world. As I stretched, my husband sat down next to me and said, "I turned the TV to Animal Planet instead of the news."
"Why?" I asked, rolling over. This was our morning tradition. He always made the coffee and turned on the television in the kitchen for when I came downstairs to get our sixth-grader out the door. But now as he sat beside me, he just shook his head. "There was another shooting.”
It remained unspoken but we both understood. We didn't want to expose our 11-year-old, who wears her heart on her sleeve and feels empathy and anxiety in equal doses, to this type of news story. Not on a day when she was already feeling nervous about the 2-day camping trip her class was going on. So instead, she was greeted by unruly, often comical cats prancing across the screen when she came down the stairs for breakfast.
Another shooting. I put it from my mind as I loaded my daughter’s camping gear into the car and drove her to school. The activity and bustle in the hall outside her classroom swallowed us. My daughter eagerly found her bunk assignment and jumped up and down when she saw she'd be sleeping in the same cabin as her best friend. I smiled at her childlike joy, her innocence, a part of me aching. When it was time for parents to leave, I hugged her a little longer and harder than usual. I was relieved she was going out to nature for two days of ropes courses and team building and bonfires. She would be surrounded by trees and blue sky and classmates . . . everything good.
Then I got in the car and turned on the news. And I felt sick. And angry. And frustrated. And helpless.
I couldn’t help but think, is this the world we want to raise our children in?
Just yesterday, before today’s events unfolded, I took my dog to the groomer at our local Pet Smart. As my daughter and I were getting out of the car, a small sedan pulled next to us and a young man got out. He didn’t see us come around our SUV as he stood up and tucked something into the waistband of his pants. I thought, for the briefest moment, I saw a gun. I watched him warily out of the corner of my eye as he followed us into Pet Smart. I reached for my daughter’s hand and stepped behind her, between her and the man, ready to bolt out of the store. My thoughts ricocheted in my head in those brief moments. . . We should leave. I should trust my instincts and get out of there. Then again, this is a Pet Smart in the middle of suburbia. Maybe it wasn’t a gun after all? In the end, I rushed into the grooming salon, glad to see the lock on the door that could be secured if something happened. Nothing happened. Once outside again, I saw the sedan was no longer parked beside me and finally breathed a sigh of relief. All of this took place in five minutes.
There is no denying that, as a society, we are on edge. There is a knot of fear in my stomach that lies dormant most of the times but occasionally screams and shouts at me. At concerts. In movie theaters. At the mall. Vacationing with my family at Disney or Times Square.
So what can we do? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. If gun control didn’t happen after Sandy Hook, when so many sweet children who had yet to live were denied their future, what will possibly change now after this mass shooting in Las Vegas? I don’t believe this is a political issue but a “human” issue. I don’t care what side of the political divide you are on or whether you believe in the right to bear arms or not. I do think we can all agree that something has to change! I don’t have the answers but I’m frustrated and angry. I hope you are too. Because if enough of us say “No more!” and take action, maybe something will finally change.