We Are Changed, Except we Can’t Actually Change.

I wrote the following words on December 20, 2012, just six days after the Newtown, CT school shooting.  The fact that it is still relevant in 2018 is horrifying.  We have failed our children.  It’s clear that it’s not even close to enough to keep saying we’re outraged, heartbroken and want change.  Sending along   “thoughts and prayers” is futile and pathetic at this point.   And for anyone who keeps wanting to deflect the blame and say it’s not about the guns, you should take your bold face lies down to Florida and wash the blood off those classrooms with your own two hands – though you’d have to let go of your precious guns first.

I’ve added a few links at the end for anyone who wants to take action. And for anyone who supports the NRA or doesn’t see the need for stricter gun laws, you can stop reading now.

December 20, 2012

We are changed. All of us.

Like everyone, I’ve struggled through my days since last Friday’s events in Newtown, CT.  We made the decision to gently tell our two older children vague details about what happened (we decided that Lila, at age 4, does not need to know), and waited for the questions to pour in. They never really came, not the way I pictured anyway. Oliver asked us nothing, it almost made me wonder if he heard what we said. But I know him. And I know the questions will come, and when they do I will curse and cry and cringe that I need to be having a discussion as real and as frightening with my 7 year old. Abby wanted to know about the parents of the children: “what will they do mommy? are they sad?” and I know she saw me flinch as the tears started to sting my eyes once again.

We are changed.

A snow day yesterday allowed us to hold our 3 kids closer to home, and definitely closer to our bodies, creating a buffer from the real world that was awaiting them this morning. When Abby had a hard time getting out of bed this morning and grumbled her usual I don’t want to go to school mantra, I had to quiet the deep pockets of my heart that were screaming at me to let her stay home. Forever.

We are changed.

They’ve jumped on that school bus so many times before in their short lives, filling in the cold, empty seats and sometimes waving back at me while I stand on the front lawn in my pajamas. Today should have been no different. I tried not to choke on the lump in my throat and plastered a giant smile on my face instead, because today they were watching me and waving back.  I didn’t care that it was pouring out, or that I didn’t have an umbrella. I let the rain soak me until that bus was out of sight.

We are changed.

Lila and I had been planning on going out to breakfast today to celebrate her first day of school vacation, and she was positively glowing with excitement. She dressed herself in an outfit she knew I would like (sparkly grey cords and a pretty purple top with the word ‘love’ written in cursive) and stood very still as I combed her hair over and over, finding myself lost in the sea of her tangles, a million moons away. “Thank you for doing my hair mama” she said, and I started crying.

We are changed.

The little breakfast place we love to go to was packed, yet she was the only child. Looking around the crowded restaurant I noticed  almost everyone was looking at Lila, who was oblivious to their stares. My eyes connected with an older woman at the table next to us. “She’s beautiful. You’re lucky,” she said to me. I nodded and felt the sting in my eyes get stronger. A man in running clothes walked by us and tussled the top of Lila’s hair and said, “hello peanut!” before sitting back down at his table. A table of four older men stopped talking and all turned around to face Lila, and she started noticing the stares. “Why is everyone looking at me?” she asked. Because you’re beautiful, and you’re loved. And you’re here. I do believe those were the first words I said to her when she was born 4 years ago as well.

We are changed.

My heart was bursting with love. Not just for Lila, but for my little community. I called my sister after breakfast and told her what I was feeling, and felt a fullness in my heart when she said she was feeling the same exact thing in her community 200 miles away. She told me after she dropped her kids off at school, the mothers all huddled in close and wept.  I imagine that kind of thing is happening in communities all over our nation. Nobody said it out loud, but I know we were all thinking the same thing — it can happen anywhere, and knowing that is terrifying.  So while we’re here, let’s love each other as loudly and as strongly and as fiercely as we can.
Because truth be told, we have to fix this together. We have to do something.  We all live in Newtown now.

blurry photo of trees in winter

Ready to take action?  Head over to  Everytown for Gun Safety.

You can see how much your representatives get from the gun lobby by clicking here

We’ve had enough.

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