The NRA Almost Took Me Down
Driving home from work last week I heard the news of the Uvalde shooting. “14 kids,” I heard the announcer say. A flood of nausea hit me and I slowed down, looking for a place to pull over. It was too much. Too much like watching the World Trade towers come down was too much. Like the Columbine shooting was much. Like Sandy Hook was too much.
I couldn’t find a place to pull over so I kept driving, willing myself to listen to the announcer’s voice, to try and understand this newest situation. I was interrupted by the thought that, at that moment, my daughter was still in school. “This could be her,” I thought “or my niece or nephews or any number of other kids in my life who I love and care about.”
My chest constricted and my ears got hot. I focused on the road, less than a mile until l got home. In my panic, I knew there was nothing to be done. I couldn’t rush to my daughter’s high school and pull her out of her class to protect her. She is just another kid, another vulnerable human in our devastatingly violent country. “One day it could be her,” I thought, “or Nancy”, or my mother or one of my sisters or brothers or one of my friends.
And then a new feeling came through me — a toughness, like a scolding teacher, one who might say, “Life isn’t fair.” I thought to myself, “I should get ready for something horrific. I should prepare myself.” The risk of this kind of tragedy befalling someone in my immediate life was becoming more and more statistically significant every year, every day. Admitting my utter helplessness in this country of daily massacres took me out of my panic. In accepting this violence as a potential fate of my life, I felt calmer.
When I got home I sat in my driveway listening to the radio. I thought of my daughter at school, my partner Nancy on the plane on her way home from New Orleans. I closed my eyes and felt myself giving up, imagining what it would feel like to lose one of them. I felt so sad, exhausted, as if covered from head to toe with a heavy blanket of warm sadness.
Some days I wish I’d had more children — siblings for my daughter, a bigger, fuller household. But on that day, listening to the latest heart-wrenching news, I was grateful to have only one…