Since I became pregnant with my daughter, I’ve thought about mortality way more than I ever have in the past. I was never one of those young people who lived life with the idea that nothing could happen to me, but I viewed my own existence as something personal to me. That was probably an immature way of looking at it and a bit self -centered. I figured that the odds were in my favor, but if something were to happen to me everyone would be fine after a little while. I hadn’t really considered how my parents might have thought about that.
How I think about life and death is a bit different now. There have always been people, events, and experiences in my life I look forward to and wouldn’t want to miss, but if I did, and were aware of missing them, I could reason being able to get over it. I don’t have nearly the same sentiment when thinking about my child.
I don’t want to miss anything. I sometimes feel like I’m missing out just when she is at daycare. I know that as she grows older and starts to assert her independence, I won’t have much of a choice in the matter. But I can’t fathom missing out on watching my child grow into herself.
Which is another tragic outcome of the Parkland school shooting. It was the eighth school shooting this year and happened in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen students and three faculty members lost their lives at the hands of a former student. Now there is another debate raging about gun control and mental health and all the things that are talked about and promptly forgotten all too often when these tragedies occur. It’s more than frustrating. The fact that I have to say “when” these tragedies occur is maddening. When did this become a part of life?
I’ve been thinking more about my daughter’s life lately and the fact that I can’t protect her from everything. I remember our first few weeks at home after she was born. Every odd sound or rapid breath from her had us quietly scrambling to check that she was okay. The very first time she slept through the night I couldn’t relax. She’s been sleeping perfectly on her own for quite some time now and I still check on her fairly often. It’s irrational at this point, but I’ve learned that this is just what parents tend to do.
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Once the news about Parkland, FL broke all I could think about was how the parents of those kids won’t get the opportunity to check again. Their kids probably went off to school just like they would have any other day. Some saw their kids leave or even dropped them off, others didn’t. There were goodbyes and I love yous and disagreements and all the things that happen before school when you’re a teenager. I can imagine the routine of it all. The ticking off of the weekly boxes. Knowing what comes next because this is the script, mundane and comforting. What I can’t imagine is, sending my child to school and then being told that I will never see her alive again because someone was angry and decided to take it out on the school with a gun. That’s not something that can really be checked for. I don’t feel that it is something that should need to be checked for.
There have been 63 school shootings since Sandyhook Elementary School in 2012. Parkland, FL is the eighth this year. It is only February. This isn’t normal and shouldn’t be acceptable. I’ve seen people bring up the statistics and reason that the probability of it happening to my kid or theirs is low. Reasoning that it’ll probably just be someone else’s kid doesn’t bring me much personal comfort if I’m being honest.
We have a real problem. I don’t claim to know how to fix it. I’m pretty sure that the way it has been being handled so far isn’t working. I also know that, “your kid will probably be okay,” isn’t good enough. I agree with the young people protesting; thoughts and prayers aren’t going to fix it, but I do hope the families of the victims find healing somehow.