It’s Wednesday, and we’re still reeling from the news of the horrific mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas. As desperately as I try, I cannot wrap my mind around the sheer terror and sorrow the survivors and victims’ families undoubtedly feel.
I don’t want to wrap my mind around it, truthfully, because humans shouldn’t be able to conjure such hurt and hatred. We do it here in America—more frequently than other developed nations, might I add—but we shouldn’t have to wake up to this and make sense of something utterly senseless.
My heart aches, my anxiety turns somersaults inside my belly, and I just want to retreat into a safe place with my precious loved ones.
But then there’s the anger. I’m angry that this continues to happen. I’m furious—as a mother—that we turned a blind eye almost five years ago on the Sandy Hook tragedy, and that we continue to treat stricter gun control as an assault on our freedoms instead of asking difficult questions, taking unpopular, but necessary stands, and making strides to create a safe country that our children and grandchildren can inherit.
Las Vegas holds many special memories for me. It’s where my husband and I spent our honeymoon—surrounded by bright lights, crowds of people, gourmet meals, and quality entertainment.
Our second Vegas trip, years later, was filled with adventure and promise, because it was one of the last vacations my husband and I took as a couple before we became parents.
Before my son was born, similar tragedies would have shocked and horrified me. They would have angered me and ignited a passion for change, but now, those feelings of shock, horror, anger, and desire for change are stronger.
They run deep within my veins and are impossible to quiet because, now, I have a young life to protect.
My safety is one thing, but protecting and nurturing my blonde-haired, blue-eyed flesh and blood is paramount to anything else.
My son will turn 3-years-old a few days from now, so he’s much too young to understand the details of what happened Sunday in Las Vegas. He can’t grasp the concept of death or evil, and, with a penchant for mischief and climbing, he still has much to learn concerning safety and danger.
So what do we do?
The mama bear in me wants so badly to hold my son close, whisper words of comfort in his ears, and do whatever it takes to protect him from sorrow and danger—because he’s too beautiful and innocent.
And, yet, I know that none of us is immune to pain. In fact, it is through pain that we grow and learn and discover. It is through pain and sorrow that we come together as one humanity; we donate blood, we embrace strangers, we advocate for change, and we offer a steady shoulder to cry on or a willing ear for listening.
We don’t retreat, and we mustn’t do so now.
Far too many lives were lost Sunday in Las Vegas, and many others are in for a tumultuous recovery. Families have been torn apart, young lives were cut too short, and the City of Lights is darker. Fortunately, I am not personally affected by the tragedy, and yet my Vegas memories, too, have been tarnished by the actions of—call him what he is—a domestic terrorist.
The darkness won’t go away overnight—nor should it. Instead of issuing a blanket “never again” like we did almost 5 years ago, let’s dig our heels in and create an America where our children feel safe. An America where assault rifles are more difficult to obtain than adequate healthcare. An America where we turn on the news early Monday morning without hearing reports of mass shootings at country music festivals.
As a mom, I won’t always be able to protect my son. He will scrape his knee, he will fail at something important to him, and he will cry tears over a broken heart. But it is my duty—and yours—to protect him in other ways.
Write to your congressman in support of stricter gun control laws. Advocate for safety in our public places. Be the light in the darkness, and offer comfort and support when tragedies do occur.
We can’t rid the world of darkness—and we cannot erase the possibility of tragedy—but we must do better now.
Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.
Featured image via Unsplash.