You drive in silence. No radio, no phone. You drive and think. You listen to your child chatter in the backseat and try not to imagine that chatter stolen from you forever.
You hold your child. Smell her hair. Kiss her forehead. Try not to imagine.
You look at the parents. See the shock. The pain. The inconsolable grief. The years ahead of them, trying to reconstruct their lives around the empty place at the kitchen table. You see their faces, their eyes, begin to take on the hollow, deep sadness of those who have lost a child. It never goes away.
You watch TV shows recorded on the DVR the Thursday night before it happened. You wonder if the families watched those shows that night. The night before it happened. The night before the world they knew was ripped away by a madman.
You want it not to be true. Oh, how you want it not to be true.
You’re terrified. What separates your family from the same fate? A statistic? The astronomical odds of it happening? Astronomical odds mean nothing to someone who loves a child.
You read stories about the teachers in sad wonderment at their courage. The teacher who hid her students in cabinets and closets and took the bullets meant for them. The teacher who cradled someone else’s child in her arms as they both died from their wounds and maybe relieved some of that child’s fear. The teacher who tried to talk to the madman as her children ran around her through the classroom door and to safety.
You swear to yourself you won’t read anymore. You do anyway.
You want armed guards at every school. Then you want all guns to be gone. You’re tired of the word “gun.”
You and your husband don’t talk about it much. One or two conversations. As if talking about it would get its attention. Bring it into your lives.
You let your child sleep in your bed. And you haven’t decided when you’ll stop.
You forget about it for an hour. Two hours. An afternoon. Then it comes back. It always comes back.
You drive in silence. And pray.