Day 23,675: It Happened April 20, 1999

We were on vacation in Colorado. It must have been summer because school was out. One child was 11. The other 9.  There were many things to do and see in Colorado, but the kids only wanted to see one place, with a name that was already forever emblazoned in their consciousness – Columbine. Neither was close to high school age yet, and the thought of high school was probably scary enough, but Columbine now just added another layer of fear about adolescence not only for them, but for me.

Something snapped for me and many others that day in April 1999. You could no longer trust that if you sent your child innocently into the world that they would return that night, nor return with the same innocence held at the breakfast table. From that day on I had only one wish for the future of my children – that they should live.

It is, of course, a prayer every parent has every day, but not as crystallized when you hear of school shootings. You send your child off every day with the expectation of seeing them for dinner. You don’t expect someone to gun them down…

Unless you were my mother who like other mothers who ran from Nazi allies in the 1930s always held a pulsing paranoia that people might want to harm her family for no other reason than breathing. You grew up thinking your parent’s paranoia was overblown, until you became a parent yourself and realized so much was completely out of your control in keeping your children safe.

Related Post: A Younger Mother’s Introspection Post Sandy Hook

Years later, I had a discussion with another parent about children marrying out of a religious faith.  It was so out of my consciousness because ever since Columbine, nothing held any meaning for me other than that my children be let to live and then possibly have a chance for happiness. I might prefer a particular religious persuasion for my children, or hope that they have good careers, find love, have good friends, or be reasonably well off, but ever since Columbine, every other desire or wish for my children’s future paled in comparison to the most basic prayer that they just be left free to live.

Today, almost 19 years later, another high school shooting has occurred, this time in Florida. All other topics pale in comparison with the 24 news cycle again focused on just this one topic. It is also Valentine’s Day. The questions we should all be asking ourselves is not whether we are for or against gun control, mental health services, or public education. The questions we should ask are:

  • What, as adults charged with the welfare of our children, can we do to ensure that welfare?
  • How can we show our love by best protecting their chance for a future?

If we honestly answer those questions, priorities are easier. All other issues are moot if we haven’t ensured our children’s most basic right to live. Only with life can we then hope for liberty and pursuit of happiness. The second amendment becomes secondary, as do so many other issues.

It’s been 19 years since Columbine; six since Sandy Hook.  Today, it’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Now ask yourself this… If laws were made by mothers whose first thought is protecting their most valuable treasures —  their children — what would our laws be?  Then, ask everyone to think and act with a mother’s heart. Do you think things would be different? Yeah, thought you’d say that.