When I was younger, before I had kids, my response to tragic events was to go numb, immerse myself in a protective bubble of denial and go about my life. I wasn’t callous or uncaring. In fact, these events affected me so deeply that the only way I could function was to find a way to bury my emotions until I was ready to dig them up again.
But, bubbles tend to be weak. And, I have other feelings to shield aside from my own. I have two children, who, thus far, have no idea about mass shootings. I am facing the truth of this no longer being a mystery. My oldest will be practicing lock-down drills in his school this week. How much will he learn? I don’t know. But, he will have questions. Questions pricking holes through the bubble.
Just when I think I have found a way to plug the holes, to stop the leaks of fear and worry, another tragedy happens. First it’s a devastating hurricane, then a horrific shooting. It’s large scale massacres occurring far beyond our familiar space and smaller tragedies effecting us on a more personal level. Which each awful event, the bubble struggles to stretch and protect, to shield us from the world.
Maybe, it is time to let the bubble burst for good. Instead of hiding behind its fragile walls, the time is right to go on the offensive. I can join grassroots movements to find a real solution to the gun problem in my country. I can encourage my children to seek out paths that are constructive and for the greater good. I can use my position as a very blessed and privileged person to make the world a little better, not just for my family, but for all families.
I get it, people are mourning, bodies still lay unclaimed. Now is not the right time. It is never the right time. Or maybe it is? Maybe now is the best time. For those of us who are blessed enough to not be dealing with the loss of someone to gun violence, now might be the best time to act. We are angry, we are heartbroken, but we are not hopeless, we are not powerless.
It is time to pop the bubble. It is time to turn “thoughts and prayers” into words and actions. We can demand more from our leaders and support causes working to keep families safe, while still ensuring our rights are protected.
We can understand that, while tragedies are a normal part of the human experience, we can at least rid the world of some of them. We can do more for our sake, for our children’s sake and for our future’s sake.
I hesitate to write the words, “I hope Las Vegas is the last mass shooting,” because my brain can not yet come to that conclusion. And, even if, this is the last one, I know there will still be suicides, domestic violence turned deadly, gang violence and other gun related deaths which will go on and on largely unreported.
I hope I am wrong. I hope I won’t feel compelled to blow another bubble of protection. Because, frankly, I am out of breath.
I understand how you feel about going numb. I did that with 911 and did not let my kids know about it. Only one was in school (kindergarten) and the school said they would not discuss it at school because they felt it was up to the parents how much information to share. (The other two were 3 and 4 months, so not that applicable.) I now regret not telling my 6 year old because he has since asked why he is the only one of his friends who has no recollection of the event. I robbed him of the experience of trying to process something difficult because I wanted to protect him.
I encourage you to react as you feel best. Here in Oklahoma we have experienced 168 deaths by a fertilizer truck bomb and 4 deaths (46 non-fatal injuries) from someone who drove a car through a parade at OSU homecoming. I share your hope that Las Vegas is the last mass shooting, mass bombing, mass knifing, or mass vehicle event.
It is a tough call. I am from NYC (Queens), but was away for college during 9/11. My husband was in NJ at the time and basically saw the whole thing go down. It took me at least 10 years to process the whole thing. I think for our kids sake, we don’t always have the luxury of not facing reality, which is hard.