Think of the Children

Alright, so this post is probably going to be a little on the sad side, but this is sort of how I feel right now about the world in general, and about the future that I have to raise my daughter in. I’d like to be able to be worry-free, to be confident in the situations that I need to put her in in the future, and to say that I’m completely comfortable letting her out of my sight to do the things that a normal child needs to do. But I’m not.

I’m sure you all understand what I’m talking about, but let me give you an overview of some things that have happened too close for comfort in my life. These things were terrible at the time and are now even scarier considering things like this happen more and more often these days and the fact I have to send Emmy out into the world and risk her safety when shit is literally hitting the fan.

Sad

My Tales

When I was just eight-years-old, I was living in Broomfield, Colorado, and I had a pretty happy, unfearful childhood up until this point. I remember vividly coming home one April afternoon and the news was on in my house. I remember hearing the sadness and fear in the newscasters’ voices and seeing the reruns of children fleeing their school with their hands upon their heads, seeing SWAT teams attempting to get those kids out and to safety with their rifles drawn. I remember the horror of learning about what had happened and the realization that human-beings could do such terrible things to each other, and so close to me—only a few handfuls of miles to the south of me, actually. I’m talking about the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20, 1999.

Shortly thereafter, 9/11 happened and yes, that was horrific too. I recall my mother showing up to my school in tears because my father was scheduled to fly home from Logan International Airport that morning—the same airport in which two of the flights departed that ended up hijacked in the skies over America that day. I didn’t know why— although she let me know that something was happening, something terrible—but she let me know that things were going to be okay and that I should go about my day unafraid. I remember later needing to use the restroom, walking across a common area outside to get into the school, and passing two teachers who were having a quiet but obviously intense and sad discussion. One teacher said, “I heard they hit the Pentagon,” “Oh my god,” said the other. I recall getting home to the news yet again on the tv, burning towers appeared on the screen and then quickly fell, collapsing down in heaping messes all over the New York City streets. I was ten, terrified.

I remember seeing a madman drive a homemade tank somewhere in the mountains of Colorado, bulldozing through parts of buildings and terrorizing the streets. I recall Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and the Geneva County Massacre.

I remember waking up one July morning in 2012, opening my computer, and seeing my Facebook feed flooded with the shocking news of the Aurora Shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. I was even more shocked to learn that it was at a theatre quite near me, a theatre that Kayleigh and I frequented on date nights as it was just miles from her parent’s house. My mother had had to text me and wait nervously on my reply, not knowing if we had decided to go and see a movie that night. A mother shouldn’t have to send texts like that, shouldn’t have to worry about those things. A couple years later, Kayleigh and I were living in our apartment two miles from the Century 16 theatre, I was working about one mile from it, and one day I got a jury duty letter in the mail. I wondered—and thought, No way,—and then I found out that yes, it was for the James Holmes trial, and yes I did need to go to the Arapahoe County courthouse to be a part of the quest for jurors for the trial. So I did. I sat in a courtroom with about one-hundred other people, Judge Carlos Samour Jr., Mr. Holmes, his defense team, and the prosecution. I filled out paperwork and spent hours listening to tidbits about the case. I then went home and hoped I needn’t return, but days later found out I had moved on to round two and would need to go back in a few weeks for a one-on-one interview, in the same room with everyone involved in the case—Holmes included. Luckily, the jury was decided one day before I had to do so, but still, it was close.

I then remember October 2012. Many of you may not remember, but I do. I was in the same state as what happened, as were all of the people I love and care about. A young man named Austin Sigg abducted, murdered, and dismembered a ten-year-old little girl named Jessica Ridgeway, whom he took when she was on her way to school.

I watched the world suffer yet again the same year when a young man named Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School—after shooting his own mother, by the way—and shot to death twenty schoolchildren between the ages of six and seven, as well as six adult staff members. What a terrible, terrible day that was.

Next came more terror attacks overseas, a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon shortly after Kayleigh and I moved there, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, and the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

Then came Emmy. We stayed in the Portland area for some time but then decided that it was for the best that we move on. We looked at all the statistics—housing market, growth rate, weather, schools, number of bookstores, crime rate—and scoured a map of the United States, looking for somewhere, anywhere that we would want to live. We decided to head to the southwestern part of the country for a few years so that I can go back to school and Emerson’s grandparents can spend some quality time with her while she’s still but a baby.

Kayleigh, Emmy, and I then moved to Las Vegas to try and figure out our lives and take steps to advance ourselves and to try and make a better future for our little family and for our baby girl. Less than a month after arriving here—three days after we were down walking around on the Las Vegas strip—a man named Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, killing 58 people and leaving another 891 others injured. I remember getting live updates on my phone as Kayleigh slept beside me and watching in horror as the events unfolded. I pulled up CNN’s live coverage on and watched as the tales of terror and complete devastation hit one after another all. night. long. I remember Colleen and Steve (Kayleigh’s mother and step-father) getting up bright and early and heading to a blood donation center to give to those who needed blood so badly that day and seeing them on tv waiting in the hours-long lines amongst the thousands of others that showed up to donate too.

I remember seeing my Facebook and Twitter again flooded with news of a shooter in Texas who rampaged through a church and shot indiscriminately, killing the young, the old, and the in-between before killing himself after being pursued by some armed, badass-as-all-hell private citizens.

And now I yet again just had to go through the same routine; the same watching for updates, the same anger at the shooter, the same horror—and total heartbreak—at the release of the names and photos of the victims. I, just earlier, was angered when I read that the FBI had been warned about this boy, this cowardly, pathetic demon of a child, (I will not call him a man) by someone close to him a month prior to his brutal attack. It wasn’t bad enough that they didn’t find him after he was reported following a comment he made on YouTube where he expressed his desire to become a professional school shooter, I guess. The FBI had a direct report, a name, an address; they were told of his warning signs, of his expressed desire to kill and destroy, and yet, they did nothing.

I know that there’s not much that we can do when it comes to the terror attacks; those are just horrible and something we’re going to have to live with, and they’re something I’m going to have to get used to Emmy seeing and hearing about. I wish I didn’t but there’s nothing I, you, or we can do about that. But we can try and do something about the mass-shootings—the massacres that take place in our schools, our movie theatres, our nightclubs, our concerts, and everywhere else. We need to start figuring out what in the hell we’re doing with our gun laws and how we can change them to make our country a safer place. This doesn’t happen everywhere else; this gun violence is a pretty U.S.-based thing. I know that there are war-torn countries and countries that suffer through many terror attacks, but I’m talking about gun violence that comes from within. The attacks on our own citizens orchestrated by our own citizens. Most other civilized countries do not see the levels of gun violence from within that we see. Their citizens also don’t have the same access to guns that we have. We can do something about our own peoples’ access to weaponry; we can change things, rules, regulations, processes. We can change the way we deal with the mentally ill. I don’t understand why we’re hyped as this great, powerful, and smart nation when we’re kind of not. I’m not saying America isn’t great, but I am saying that America is broken. We’ve gone astray somewhere along the lines and we need to put in some real work to get back on the right path.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of looking at my phone, my computer, my tv screen only to see the same things happening over and over and over again. I’m tired of seeing people’s children—their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers—I’m tired of seeing these people dying and their loved ones being left behind to wonder why. I’m tired of every fucking excuse that the government makes as to why we shouldn’t have better-regulated gun laws and why we can’t take weapons out of the hands of the proven mentally-ill or people with convictions for violent crimes. I’m tired of all of the bullshit, and I’m tired of watching our nation, again and again, have to mourn and watch others’ lives being torn apart completely, never to be fixed again, on our television screens and other devices. I’m tired of worrying and wondering when the next one will happen, when it will happen somewhere I or a loved one are, at a given time. I’m tired of being scared for my baby girl’s future and having to be afraid to take her anywhere, of having to be afraid of sending her to school, of having to be afraid that some person who should not have access to weapons will one day cross her path and gun her down like she’s nothing to them, just another head in their body-count. I’m just tired.

I think we’re all tired. I think we’re all ready for a change. When are we going to commit and agree and decide that we’ve had enough? When are we going to stop dicking around and get our shit together so that our children don’t have to live their lives afraid?

It needs to happen. It needs to happen before more innocent people die because one person—one psychopathic, murderous, domestic terrorist—is unhappy, or insane, or feels discontent, or like they’re special and deserve the attention that committing a mass shooting will bring them or their pitiful “cause.”

We need to change people.

Think of the fucking children.

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