Hiding From the News

I live this way because I don't have a choice.

abstract watercolor illustration of a twisted and dying tree
Image created via Midjourney

Last week, there was another mass shooting. 18 people were killed at a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, including a 14-year-old boy and contestants in a cornhole tournament for the deaf.

I first learned about the mass shooting on Facebook. A friend posted, "Thoughts and prayers don't seem to be working." She didn't have to write anything else. I knew what she meant.

I didn't immediately run to a news outlet. Instead, I heard more details the next morning. My 14-year-old son listens to NPR every day in our kitchen as he eats breakfast.

One of my friends commented that he hasn't been able to engage with the news about the Main shooter for mental health reasons. He then said, "It makes me genuinely sick for people with kids. I don't know how you do it."

I've also been avoiding the details for mental health reasons. I can't break down with every mass shooting, because I'd be non-functional, all the time. Uvalde broke me, for days. (and I learned about it in almost the same way as the Maine shooting) I couldn't stop thinking about those parents, and the unimaginable pain of never seeing their children again.

Earlier this year, there was an intruder at my son's middle school. They immediately went into lockdown because the man refused to leave. I didn't hear about it until the incident was over which was a blessing since I'm not sure what I would have done if I'd known about it while it was happening.

My son told me, "It's ok. We practice for this." And I hate that. Planning for an active shooter is part of what they do at his school. Because the government has utterly failed to enact meaningful gun reform, my kids have to grow up thinking they could be killed at any time.

Maybe they're numb to it. They can't live their lives on edge. They have to go about their days and not think about it.

Surely my son notices that mass shootings are announced on the news, and then the world quickly moves on. It's a headline for a day, maybe two. We used to be horrified for much longer.

Last week, we went to trunk-or-treat at the elementary school. Families decorate the trunks of their cars and hand out candy in the school parking lot.

The entire event makes me nervous, as it did last year. Hundreds of people, out in the open. Local police officers are on site and that makes me feel slightly better, but I know that something could happen in an instant.

But what are my options? If I shelter my kids and avoid going out, that's a different type of tragedy. It's no way to live our lives.

I live this way because I don't have a choice.

On the day after the Maine shooting, I needed to go grocery shopping. My husband said, uneasily, "Maybe you shouldn't go out today." I knew what he was thinking. What if there's a shooting at the grocery store?

Initially, I replied, "It's no big deal" but then I changed my mind. I scheduled a pickup order instead.

Responding to the Reoccurring Tragedy
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