Yep, I quoted Ayn Rand. Because the quote is too accurate not to include.
Two years later, I still cannot believe the horror of Sandy Hook. That this actually happened in our country. It’s as sick a plot as anything I think could be imagined for the worst type of shock horror film, but even worse than that. As the mother of an elementary school child, even thinking about it for a moment takes my breath away, makes me panicky, upsets my stomach. While I usually can get away without crying in the parking lot of the school these days after drop off, without having to go back and check and check when he is not looking, watching him happily eating his breakfast, making sure he is ok and everything looks right and normal, it isn’t like that every day. I don’t always have time to sit in the parking lot and watch cars arrive after D is safely inside, scrutinizing whether or not someone is recognizable, if that’s a car I know. It’s a whole new school this year in the big elementary, so all new people, and even more of a loss of control.
I walk down the halls with D in the morning, seeing the brightly decorated hallways and doorways, encouraging positive behavior, lauding achievements. Turkeys decorated with disguises. A giant, cardboard cut-out elf on the shelf, “watching” over the kids. A rainbow-colored lost glove, stuck up on the brick by itself, waiting for its owner to claim it. To try to imagine this space as the site of a horror show is somehow very, very bad and wrong at the core of my being. And yet I’ve done it. You can’t not. They had a lockdown drill last week, and I talked to D about it before and after. His Dad and I have had the discussion about where his particular classroom is located – right next to a back set of doors that go to the outside, which is either a really great thing, as it’s down a remote hallway one might otherwise overlook if you didn’t know if it was there – it’s off the beaten path, or it’s a really bad thing, because of its isolation.
“This is why I homeschool,” I’ve heard some people say. But what about the people shot in shopping malls? The movie theater? A soccer player traveling with his family for an out-of-town game, shot to death by a bullet that came through the wall – the gun lover next door at fault, because he just had to be fucking around with his gun. I long for the days when men just played with their dicks in hotel rooms. At least I didn’t have to worry every minute that there’s a gun nut on the other side of the plaster going to take me or my boy out.
Maybe it’s my own personal familiarity with guns that heighten it for me. I’ve spent hours in the local range alongside a local member of law enforcement, going over the rules every single time before we start. Always assume the gun is loaded. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Finger off the trigger until you are aimed at the target. Know your target, what is near it and what’s behind it. But that was long ago. I got to the point I couldn’t do it anymore, as stories of gun violence escalated. And then Sandy Hook, the horror of which consumed me like fire for months. The physical pain of imagining the anguish of every parent of every child in that school. What it must have felt like to race there in your car, wondering if you were the tragic, horrible loser of today’s lottery. I don’t think anyone was a winner that day, even parents whose children made it through unscathed. Certainly not the children, any of them, those that survived and those that didn’t.
I feel in many ways this is the tragedy of my lifetime. To me, it’s a national horror as awful as what I’ve heard people describe they felt upon receiving the news of the assassination of JFK (and what they felt changed, at that instant and forever after). It’s as abhorrent as the lives lost on 9/11, but more personal to me – I have friends who are friends with parents of Sandy Hook victims. And to live in a country where there are actually people who don’t even think it really happened – it makes me physically ill.
I’m certain now that I’ll never “get over it.” And am not sure that I should; that any of us should. Should we, as a country, really learn to GET OVER the mass slaughtering of innocent first graders as they cowered around their brave teachers? How is this acceptable even for a single day, let alone for two years? “Not one more” has become so many, many more. It’s the sickest type of Darwinism, a national embarrassment. We have to do better.
Hug your children extra tight tonight. And pray that nobody with a gun is around.