It was heartbreaking.
It wasn’t of bloodied bodies. It wasn’t of crying families mourning victims.
Yes, those are devastating beyond measure.
But this image cut through me. The reality of the insanity of our world was encapsulated for me in one simple image.
The image appeared to be a father with his daughter and her friend crouched down while running. They were running for their lives. He was the picture of a man whose only thoughts were a primal urge to ‘keep them safe’. He was calmly looking at his daughter and her friend yelling. Likely saying to stay down and keep running. He was probably trying to assure them they were going to be ok, when he was praying to God for that to be the truth. They were scared. Scared in a way that none of us should ever know. Scared in a way I can’t begin to comprehend and hope to never have to.
I’m sure in that moment, like we are wired to, there was no conscious thought. Just adrenaline fueling fight or flight. A primal reaction to move, flee, survive.
When I saw this image I cried.
I cried because, well, I’m a little bit emotional since I am weaning and my hormones are all over the place. But hormones aside, I probably would have cried regardless.
All I could think was this wasn’t how that night was supposed to go, and because I have an overactive imagination, I instantely conjured a story of how that night should have gone for these three.
I imagined it was her 13th birthday. Her parents had gotten her and a friend these concert tickets. They were going to see Jason Aldean. It was going to be their first big concert. They were going to buy t-shirts and videotape their favorite songs on their phones to remember it. They were going to stay up WAY past their bedtime. They were going to go to school on monday morning and brag to all their friends about how cool their weekend was.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Running. Fearing for their lives. Praying to be safe. Learning a level of panic no child should know.
This is our world.
This is the world my babies are being raised into.
And what makes me the most upset is the lack of change to make it STOP.
It just keeps happening. Social media blows up. The news blasts the story from every outlet. There are protests for gun reform, mental health reform. Then it all quiets down. Nothing is done. Nothing changes.
And then it happens again.
I don’t want my kids growing up like this. I don’t want to go to the movie theatre, the mall, a concert, an airport, a festival and be on high alert. I don’t want my kids learning ‘active shooter’ drills like they are a routine fire drill in Kindergarten. I don’t want to be a civilian secret service agent for my own family, constantly looking for a threat.
So what do we do?
How do we keep our children safe?
How do we CHANGE so that this STOPS happening?
I honestly don’t know the answers, but I want to. Because this is not O.K.
Maybe, just maybe, this time…after the dust settles…after the story isn’t so ‘hot’…after the hashtag #prayforvegas stops trending…we keep talking about it. We keep talking about how it NEEDS to change. We keep talking about how the system is broken. How people with mental health are stigmatized instead of helped. How guns are easier to get than alcohol and cigarettes. How the ‘right to bear arms’ has become distorted and abused.
Maybe…if we don’t let this story pass by like all the others, then something will change.