i can’t think of two words i hate more right now.
my brother sent me a text saying: “cali shooting please be safe still active.” i’m assuming the no punctuation is an indicator of being in the middle of work and trying not to seem distracted.
i then start panicking, because my husband is working and i’m at home with our son, and i immediately spiral into the worst possible thoughts. so, what else is there to do but Google.
so i Google. and for a moment, i take a small breath. it isn’t Los Angeles. i click thru to see who i should start praying for and learn it’s San Bernardino. the city where my father-in-law lives. the city we frequently visit. and the panic returns.
i don’t know why i didn’t call. too afraid, maybe. i texted my father-in-law, deciding to wait until i know he’s safe and accounted for — because he has to be — before contacting my husband. and then, i started to cry. and my hands were shaking so badly i had to delete and start over multiple times. judah coughed in his sleep and the sound of it over the baby monitor made me jump.
those had to be the longest four minutes i’ve ever experienced, but my father-in-law responded that he was safe in his home, watching the news on TV. that’s when i decided to contact my husband and fill him in so he didn’t see the news and go thru the same series of emotions.
i know my husband is safe, i know my father-in-law is safe, but i can’t stop crying. this is happening far too frequently, and closer and closer to home. i’ve been having “active shooter” dreams, y’all. i’m somewhere and we’re running to safety or i’m stuck in a room looking for the best hiding place or i’m trying to get my son in the car so i can drive away while the shooters close in. i don’t sleep much those nights.
i cry about these shootings often. “active shooter” has become such a part of our everyday experience, i’m waiting for it to scare me less to hear it. that hasn’t happened yet.
i Google things like “countries with strictest gun laws” and “safest place to raise black children” and “lowest number of gun-related deaths” because i’m willing to live anywhere and adapt to any lifestyle if it means my family can be safe.
i write this post still reeling with anxiety. i don’t even know if it makes any sense. i’m sure things are spelled wrong. i don’t know what else to do with these feelings. i’ve signed the petitions, sent the pre-written emails, sounded off in comments…what else can i do? this isn’t some action-oriented, hope-filled post. this is a giant, desperate, overwhelmed with grief question: what do we DO?
when will our lives matter enough? when will we all get sick enough of hearing or seeing the words “active shooter” and breathing guilt-ridden sighs of relief when we learn it isn’t our town, our kid’s school, our doctor’s office? yet.
growing up, it was important to be extra safe in “dangerous neighborhoods.” lock the car doors. travel in groups. make sure you don’t leave your drink unattended. not, next time you’re grocery shopping, watch for the guys with the guns. i remember hurricane measures and fire alarms, not “active shooter” drills. what has the world come to?
i’m just overwhelmed. i’m tired of this. i’m beside myself. i’m terrified. aren’t you? i refuse to accept this as our new normal.
my deepest sympathy for the families of those whose lives were lost for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. i’m so sorry your text messages weren’t answered. i ache for you and the pain you must be feeling. i don’t know why we can’t do better.