When I wake up early in the morning for a meeting with my team in the states, one of the first things I do afterward is visit the 8YO’s room. She claims she will wake up at 6:30am to read; she is a voracious reader. The alarm goes off, and she shuts it off and continues sleeping. “No reading today?” I’ll ask, as I give her a kiss on the cheek.
In 2012 when the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting happened I remember sitting numbly at my desk at work. We were just one month pregnant. “How can you send a child to school in this country?” I thought to myself.
She likes to have a whole orange sliced up into wedges at part of her lunch, no matter how incongruous that is with the rest of lunch. But, you have to transfer each half orange as a perfect bisected globe onto her plate so she can be surprised anew that it’s actually comprised of wedges. She’s a slow eater. So slow that I can cook my lunch, eat, and tidy up while she’s still eating. Yesterday I finished all of that and then stood behind her chair, my hands resting on her shoulders while she ate.
In 2015 when the Charleston church shooting happened I remember solemnly saying the victims’ names out loud to keep their thought alive.
In 2016 when the Pulse nightclub shooting happened I was a stay-at-home parent. I remember watching the Democrat filibuster in real time while tweeting and blogging about it, and calling my Senator and representative. I was crying so hard that day that I think I asked someone else from the family to visit to play with the kid. I remember thinking, “How can you raise a child in this country?”
In 2017, almost exactly five weeks ago to this very day, E had a job offer in New Zealand.
In 2017 when the Las Vegas concert shooting happened we had just moved into our first house in New Zealand. I remember frantically checking on my former bandmate, Ashley, who was in Las Vegas and attending that music festival. She was already on her plane home, and it was one of the longest days of my life waiting for her to land and reply to my messages.
In 2018 when the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happened we hadn’t even been in New Zealand for six months. I remember thinking, “even after Pulse, nothing changed.”
Later in 2018 when the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting happened I remember loading and reloading the profile of a friend in Pittsburgh, only for him to later affirm he was okay but that was his synagogue on his block.
In 2019 when the Christchurch mosque shooting happened I was sitting at my desk at the Ministry of Business, less than 10 feet from the Chief Executive of the ministry, watching as her office transformed into the war room. I felt physically sick. Didn’t we leave America to move away from this?
Later that same day, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden told our nation and the world that New Zealand’s gun control laws would change.
Just 18 days later, all but one member New Zealand’s parliament voted in favor of a ban on (and buy-back of) semi-automatic weapons.
I saw news of a shooting in Philadelphia and rushed tearfully to Facebook to check that my friends were all okay only to realize it was a headline from several years ago. It had already happened, I had already grieved it. I just didn’t remember. There have been so many mass shootings in the United States this year alone that I cannot remember them all and the ways they all made me feel. I can’t remember all of the places I’ve been when I heard about another shooting this past decade. I can no longer remember all of the names and stories of the victims that seemed so indelible to me at the time. I still say their names when I look them up to remind myself.
Yesterday as news emerged that 19 children and 2 teachers had been killed in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting I stood at the kid’s chair, my hands resting on her shoulders while she ate. The kids were her age, in her grade. 19 children. 19 families who would never get to linger in these little moments with those children every again.
10 years ago I wondered if we could raise a child in a country that would allow Sandy Hook to happen and not doing anything to change it.
5 years ago we decided we could not.
Today we live in a country that has banned the kinds of weapons most often used to perpetrate these murders.
Every day I live in grief for every child who has died to gun violence in America, but also for those who walk into school each day wondering if this will be their day. Children younger than my own child. Children who I know and love and children I’ve never met.
Every day I wish America would change.