February is soccer try out month in my house. Both of my kids play soccer, both for school and club. Soccer is a big deal in my house. February is a tense time. "What if I don't make the middle school team? Again?" This from my son. "I have to make varsity this year." This from my daughter. It's weeks of preparing, worrying, hand holding and encouraging. It's exhausting. It's my job as a soccer Mom.
Then came the school shooting in Florida, right in the middle of soccer try outs. And suddenly making a school or club team seemed trivial. Suddenly, again, I was forced to think about children and their very brave teachers being murdered in their schools.
School is meant to be a place of learning and growth. It's often not perfect, and some days are better than others. But it's meant to be a place where life-long friends are made. It's not meant to be a place where children die. The hallways should ring with the sounds of children's voices as they change classes, not the screams of terror or the cries of the wounded and dying.
This issue is not about your stance on guns. Or your political party choice. It's about children being murdered because someone was angry or disturbed. It's about teachers and coaches sacrificing their lives to save their students. I do not claim to know the answer to this epidemic. What I know is that one child lost is too many.
It's not enough for political leaders to offer their prayers after such an event. I cannot, and do not wish to, know the pain these families are feeling. But if my child were ever murdered by a stranger with an assault rifle, some politician offering a hollow promise to 'end these tragedies' would not comfort me.
After each of these events, we say 'never again.' And then it happens. Again. It happened in Colorado. And we said never again. Then it happened in Kentucky and Washington state. It happened in Pennsylvania and Sandy Hook. It happened at Virginia Tech. Now, it's happened in Florida. Each time, we vow never again. And then it happens in the places I didn't mention.
Everyday, I send my two children off to school. Not once have I wondered if I would see them again. But then I'm sure the parents who have lost theirs to this violence didn't either. On Thursday morning, that terrible thought entered my head. I talked with my children about what they would do if it happened in their schools. That's not a conversation I ever wished to have.
Hug your children. Tell them how much you love them. Every day. Even when they are on your last nerve. We know now that we cannot take anything for granted. The one thing that all the sites of school shootings have in common is that no one there thought it could happen in their town. But it will happen again. It will continue to happen until we stop the madness.