We've been really busy lately. Like pre-pandemic level of busy, with neverending activities — especially as the school year wraps up.
And as we attend these various functions, I realize how uncomfortable I've become in large crowds. At first it was the residue of pandemic isolation and fear of Covid. But that's settled now and I'm (mostly) comfortable being in crowds.
But now I fear gun violence. Any time, any place. Particularly school events. I'm tense and on alert as I look around. I'm watching the door and keeping a close eye on my kids, also knowing there might be very little I could do if we were attacked.
How can that fear be anything but rational at this point?
I keep thinking, ever since my babies died, that I'm waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Some people experience horrible things over and over in their lives and I must be one of them, to have two babies die. I can even picture my own screaming face after something happens to one of my children.
Every morning, my 7th grader leaves the house and I yell, "Love you!" as he walks out the door.
Every morning, I walk my 5th grader and kindergartener out to the bus. The 5th grader could go to the bus stop alone, but the kindergartner is too young to cross the street by herself. I'm the only parent at the corner, waiting with a group of neighbor kids.
Every morning, I say, "Goodbye, I love you" to my kids as they get on the bus. My 5th grader kind of grunts in response. The kindergartener waves.
A few weeks ago I had to go to the doctor early in the morning for bloodwork. And as I drove back, I realized I wouldn't be home in time for the bus. Logistically I didn't matter because my husband could take them out. But I realized that I wouldn't be able to say goodbye to my kids. They wouldn't hear "I love you!" as the last thing before they leave for school.
And what if that day were the day that something happened at school?
I began to panic as I drove home. I fought tears and a lump in my throat. And also realized that there was nothing I could do to get home more quickly.
That's the thing about trauma. The trauma of losing my babies. And the collective trauma of parents that have lost children to guns. It makes you afraid and constantly think of worst-case scenarios.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. A day that's always hard. My kindergartener has informed me that a present (a school project) is hiding in her room. She can barely contain her excitement.
Maybe this year, for the first time in a long time, I'll approach Mother's Day differently. Not as the day that I'm missing Nelle and Iris. But the day that I hug my living children close because they are still here.