Monday, June 13, 2016

Closer to Home


I remember the first time I saw my mom crying. She was bawling, actually. I was in fifth grade. I
took my time walking down our long lane and wondered if my mom had heard the news. When I met my mom in the kitchen, I instantly registered her red-rimmed eyes. She clutched me to her chest and held me in a tight hug. And then she sobbed. The Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded. Word had traveled fast for the mid-80s. In school we’d begun to cheer on the first teacher launching into space, then quickly shifted to figuring out how to mourn the loss and the loss of the crew in such an abrupt transition of time.

A great tragedy.

Growing up, a few other news stories brought my mom to tears. But that’s the event that stands out to me. Because it seemed so far away. Like something that could never happen to me or my loved ones.
I find myself reflecting on the first time I witnessed my mom’s intense reaction to this news story because I’m a mom now. And too many incidents have caused me to cry since I’ve become a mother. Too many tears.

I bring this up in the aftermath of Christina Grimmie’s death this weekend, then yesterday, only a day later, a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. Both significant losses occurred in the same city. My girls and I were rooting for Christina when she sang on The Voice. She mesmerized me when she sang “All of the Stars” with Ed Sheeran. She had so much more life to live—so many more songs to sing.

I feel a sweeping darkness.

One could argue it’s because we’re more informed now, news being shoved in our face every second. I believe it’s more than that. And that conversations need to continue. Not opinion-heavy lambasts. Dialogue with active listening, self-control, a will to want to change this current state we’re in. Because I can hear the loud voices in my head already. Gun control. Mental illness. Terrorists. Politics. Let’s be honest, I’m not only hearing it in my head, it’s all over social media. People have opinions and they feel entitled to share. Okay, all well and good (or not) but I’m calling for productive conversation that carries the potential to lead to change. Not just venting because we’re all feelings this—this foreboding lack of control.

How do we prevail against darkness? By exuding light. And we can only do that if we remain civilized, respectful, open-minded and introspective.

My kids are growing up with these news stories. They aren’t as unusual or as devastating as they once were. We cannot become numb to this—cannot accept a world where it’s alright to destroy one another.

Columbine. 9/11. Sandy Hook. It’s gotten much closer to home. Tragedy no longer feels far away or like something that could never happen to me or my loved ones.

Something’s got to give.


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