Columbine was an awakening.
I was a senior in high school. Nearly done. Ready for college and future, and suddenly, my peers were looking at friends of mine - people we'd all known forever, but who favored boots and trenchcoats, loud music and facial piercings as The Other. My friends cared. They'd never tell you because they were Teflon-bulletproof-fuckyou people, but they were hurt that people they'd Red Rovered with and been to the skating rink birthday parties of, suddenly moved to the other side of the hall and eyed their backpacks suspiciously.
The horrors ran together afterwords. I'll admit to being shocked but numbed to another school shooting, another active shooter, another lockdown.
Until Sandy Hook.
By then, I wasn't just a teacher, I was a mom. It was a deeper slice, because these weren't older children, children struggling at the brink of adulthood, these were the faces I see every day. Their ages and the circumstances made them so much more innocent to me. It was so much more vivid because these could have been my students. My kid's classmates. My school, my life.
It was personal.
And today, it's my backyard. I know people who work at Freeman. I know students who attend. I know the culture of my area and the barometer of the country right now, and I sat at my desk with my head in my hands watching my Twitter feed scroll by, looking for any news, any snippet, then carefully rearranging my face for kindergartners or recess duty or whatever came next.
And when school was out, I sat in my car and screamed.
It's the most primal feeling I've had. I'm frightened of it.
I'm so sad and angry at us.
We never get people the mental health help they need.
Guns are too easy to get.
We tease and mock and go after those who seem week.
This event - where someone's baby was killed by another someone's baby - is being co-opted for rhetoric on both sides. We are so far past the time for fucking rhetoric. Take the thoughts and the prayers and the blame and the warning signs and the self-righteous bullshit and just stop. Stop. Think. Just for a moment.
A child was hurting enough to kill someone.
A child was killed. A family broken.
Three children were hurt.
A school community is shattered.
A small town is grieving.
Did you really think about those things? Really-really? Because they're hard things. They should make you hurt inside. They should make you uncomfortable. Too uncomfortable to offer your thoughts without actions.
Our taste for violence and cowardice to confront it needed to end a long time ago. Let today be the day that you - YOU - decide that enough is enough. There has to be something you feel that you can do, no matter how small, that will make a difference.
Because we should all be hurting about this today. And if we all hurt enough, are uncomfortable enough, for our own damn comfort we'll take action.
And then fewer people are going to have to hurt in the future.
Note: These are my feelings and not yours, my experiences not yours, and today, my post and not yours. I love you and thank you for reading, even sharing if you want or need, but this requires no opinions. I hope we are clear.