Friday, February 16, 2018


I’ve hesitated to write anything about the Parkland shooting because I don’t have a right. It’s not my tragedy. It’s a national tragedy and we all feel awful, but I’m not the parent of any of the students. I’m not a teacher in the school. And writing about it, up until now, has seemed like jumping on the bandwagon and trying to get attention.

That’s not me.

But the thing is, I don’t talk when I’m upset, I write. And not writing about this is worse for me than the chance that someone will think less of me for doing something I shouldn’t.

I’m not a parent of a Parkland student. But I am the parent of someone whose best camp friend goes to Parkland. I watched as my daughter received real-time texts while her friend was in hiding. And I am the friend of another set of parents whose children were inside the building. All three kids were physically unharmed. I know them all and I am grateful.

I can’t imagine how any of the parents felt. I can’t imagine what that experience was like. But I do know how I feel and I’m in a strange limbo right now. Watching the news and scanning the faces of the children escaping the school—looking for specific faces—is very different from the horrified curiosity of the rest of the nation. Texts were read to me, and I had to help my child deal with the sudden silence of no texts. It makes the experience more intimate. At the same time, I have the luxury of distance. It wasn’t my child I was searching for as the news loops played the same video over and over again. I can, for a time, forget.

But that distance? It’s really not far. I know those three kids. I played with two of them as babies. I’ve hosted one of them in my home for weekend visits. I’ve hugged one at camp. And I’m raw, even now.

That rawness is making me understand a little bit the desire not to discuss how to stop these tragedies, that’s it’s “not the time.” Don’t get me wrong—any politician saying this should be trashed right now, right away (and behind the scenes, I’m doing it—the time for grace is long past). But in this age of social media, a lot of the information I relied on came from updates posted by my friends as a way of reaching the hundreds of people who had concern for their children.

As I scrolled through my feed, it was physically painful to see other people’s vitriol. Not that it isn’t justified. I get it. I really do. This country needs gun control and we needed it yesterday (countless yesterdays, actually). But the last thing I wanted to see were photos from the scene, graphic cartoons, guns. I needed some time and space to heal. I still do.

Yet I have no right to complain. They’re not my children. I should be focusing on mine, on helping her deal with this tragedy that could have been so much worse. So that’s what I’m doing. And maybe that’s how we fix this. Because if the tragedy only affects those directly in its path, little will get done. They are in mourning and shock. But the rest of us, we need to make sure someone does something. And soon.

Yes, this post is about me. And some will think I’m selfish for writing about myself when others are so clearly hurting—I’ll be judging myself as soon as I hit “publish,” trust me. But if it takes a village to raise a child, then when the child is hurt, the village suffers.

As it should.

Silence doesn’t help. And even though I, personally, haven’t been able to stomach the current anger, I’ll get there. As much as I’d like time to breathe and recover, I know that’s not right for everyone else.

So please, somebody do something. And keep doing it, so that the rest of us, as soon as we are able, can join in.


  1. Beautifully put Jennifer. I know all our hearts go out to the children and famililes, whether bereaved or survivors. No one can imagine the anguish they went through. Your insight into reading and waiting for texts is heart rendering.
    We can all only pray and hope. Our prayers are joined to yours.

  2. Tragedies always hit even harder when you know someone you who was there, and you must have been so relieved that the ones you know were not harmed.
    Maybe, just maybe, the young people who are now rising up in protest, will create the backlash against the government - and more specifically the NRA which appears to control the USA government.