The headline leapt at me like a blast from the past.
School Shooting in Colorado Leaves 1 Student Dead and 7 Injured-New York Times
I was searching for statistics on negative self-image and somehow found my way to facebook when this article came across my newsfeed. I instantly stopped scrolling, halted my search and abruptly ended my initial train of thought.
My heart dropped even further as I continued to read.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office released a statement confirming that one of the eight who had been shot, an 18-year-old man, had died-New York Times
I can’t explain why this jumped out at me because truthfully I’ve grown numb to these headlines. When a gunman killed a student at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, I barely batted an eye, but this stopped me in my tracks and unleashed a tide of grief, anger and indignation.
FUCK. THIS. SHIT.
No other words capture what I feel in this moment. I knew I needed to write something. Not because this is my way of trying to make a difference. This blog post won’t change the minds of those who are against gun control reform, and it certainly won’t alter the hearts of elected officials. This is not my act of resistance or contribution to the movement.
This is an expression of rage and an outlet of grief. Even as I type, I can hear the silent sobs of mothers anxiously waiting by their phones hoping to receive word their child has survived. I feel the uncontrolled tears of the parents who suddenly have to make arrangements for a funeral instead of a graduation open house.
As the sobs grow in volume and the tears flow faster, I’m transported to Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, and I see the bodies 5 and 6 year olds strewn about as if they mean nothing. Innocence crushed as laughter gives way to screams and joy to terror. Older siblings forced to process death far too soon. Young souls burdened with intense fear, embedded with incomprehensible loss and overcome with unimaginable sorrow.
Again parents wait in the parking lot and cling to their phones hoping against hope that they will soon hear that voice they cherish and be able to put their arms around that part of themselves they entrusted to the world though it was against their instincts to do so. Parents now forced to hold the unjust truth that the world once again failed them, and the price they paid for their trust is far too steep.
As the images of these parents flash through my mind, I’m whisked back even further into a school library in Colorado. Bullets kill bodies and dreams alike as two young gunmen open fire. Confusion reigns as the unthinkable unfolds. A community is rocked awake and a nation warned that their children are no longer safe. What will we do with this warning?
Twenty years after Columbine, seven years after Sandy Hook and three days after Highlands Ranch we ignore the warnings claiming any action is an affront to our perceived freedom. We send our children off like lambs to the slaughter all the while pointing to an improper interpretation of the 2nd amendment as if it is somehow holier than those we’ve lost.
The blood of children and tears of parents are too great a price to pay. Like Judas, we sell out our most innocent members of society for blood-stained silver. Most of us never see the profits that are made, but we see the shine of bullet casings and the blast of gun barrels as they snuff out life at an alarming rate in our schools, our neighborhoods and on our streets.
My heart breaks today for the victims and survivors alike. I mourn the more than 1000 children and teens who’ve been killed and injured by gun violence in the U.S. as of May 9th.
I weep with the tens of thousands of family members affected, and I tremble as I imagine the river of tears which have been shed this year alone. May this river sweep away our bullshit and drown our apathy so that one day soon, we can plan fewer funerals and more graduation parties.