School massacre: ‘Hug your children tighter tonight’

I, like parents across the country, will hug my son a bit tighter tonight.

But it won’t be enough.

I will think of those children and their parents and ache for them.

But it’s not enough.

It’s not enough to feel sad and shake our heads and mourn these lost lives. We have to act. We can’t wait a day while the horror of the shootings sinks in or a week while news of the shooter and the victims surfaces. We have to have the conversation now about why this happens in our country and what we can do to stop it.

One of my first thoughts upon hearing of the news that 20 children and seven adults had been gunned down in their classroom was thank god that wasn’t my child.

What a gross thought. Relief in a moment like that?

A split second later my stomach turned with the realization that it could have been my son. That could be my kid screaming and crying as he filed out of his school, ushered by police and horrified teachers. It could have been his daycare where a sick heavily armed man charged in shooting blindly. My son isn’t any safer than those kids were. And that makes me sick.

I can’t even for a second imagine what those parents are feeling right now, the grief and horror and anger that 27,000 members of the community is feeling. But I’m a mom and there are parents around the country feeling a deep nauseating fear tonight – again.

We’ve been here before. In a movie theater, or a mall, a college campus or even on Baltimore’s first day of classes — a high school kid shot a disabled teen in school.

This feels almost familiar. How disgusting is that, that this has become something almost common in our society? That we almost utter the words, “Oh, no, not again.”

It’s tempting to turn off the news and stop reading the headlines. The quotes are heartbreaking – children screaming, crying, and so innocent.

“The gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled,” one student told reporters. “And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all … started crying.”

President Obama expressed what so many were feeling:

“The majority of those who died were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old,” he said.

He paused and teared up as two of his aides broke down.

“They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, wedding, kids of their own,” Obama said with his voice cracking. “Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children.”

It’s too easy to not talk about it, to shake our heads and hug our babies. Feel sad for those parents who lost their babies and relieved that we still have our babies to hold.

This tragedy comes just weeks away from celebrating the holidays and it’s so hard to talk about it.

But we have to keep talking about it. I agree with those who have argued that we indeed should politicize this moment. We need to seize on this fear and anger and have a conversation about gun control in this country. This must be about gun control and access to firearms. I get that it’s more complicated than that, but we need to have the conversation and take action now. We need to treat gun violence as a public health issue. It is most certainly a public health issue, and we must put this tragic horrific day into context.

We have do be doing more to prevent these mass shootings from happening. We have to do more than avoid the headlines and images while we hug our children tightly.

We owe it to those families.