While the rest of the news cycle has moved on to Trump and his shenanigans, Parkland and Coral Springs have not.
The other day I sat with my son trying to help him understand a math problem. It wasn’t complicated from my point of view, but he’s only seven. It occurred to me in that moment the level of time and energy I put into him. My whole day, my whole life is wrapped up in my two children. $20 to buy a tool to fix my car? Don’t know if I can afford that. $400 for him to attend a summer enrichment program? No question. On Saturdays, I ferry them around for piano classes, dance classes, basketball games, swimming, anything I can think that will help to enrich his life in hopes I can give him a better opportunity than I had.
He’s the same age as the kids who were massacred at Sandy Hook in 2012. All the years I dedicate my life to my son, and someone could come along and in the blink of an eye, snuff him out.
Just like that, every minute I spend reading to him at night goes to waste.
Two months ago, a kid walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and snuffed out seventeen people in a span of six minutes. Just like that. A blink of an eye in the life of a human being. But the parents of all those kids, the ones who’d spent the past fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years dedicated to their children, ferrying them to piano classes, dance classes, soccer games, and anything else they thought might enrich their children’s lives, all those endless hours trying to help them understand some seemingly complicated math problem and the mental gymnastics it took to forgive them for dropping an $800 camera in the pool, those parents are still alive. And the time it takes to snap your fingers was all it took to snuff those kids’ lives out.
I watch the news regularly. I read it; I have an RSS reader on my phone that feeds me stories from CNN, Fox, Pro Publica, USA Today, Al Jazeera, and a ton of other international outlets. I like to stay informed. I look at the headlines lately, with the Trump scandal this or that or the nominee for some position or some other thing going on in Washington, this lawyer is in trouble and is about to flip, that team got booted from the playoffs, this European president is in town, and if you read the headlines, it would seem the rest of the world has moved on.
But we haven’t moved on.
If you drive around the northwest corner of Broward County, you will see #MSDSTRONG everywhere you go. You will see it on signs at stores around town. You will see cups arranged in the chain link fences around every school. You will see magnets and bumper stickers on every other car.
When I drive by Stoneman Douglas High School, it’s a cold, visceral feeling. My heart races. Even after hours, at every entrance is a state trooper keeping out the curious. Signs surround the whole place. And just think: thousands of students and teachers go back there every single day. They walk by the freshman building, cordoned off with construction fence; no one wants to go back in there.
I wasn’t there at ground zero. I interviewed there, I subbed there once or twice, and some of my tutoring clients went there. I didn’t hear the gunshots echoing off the hall and I didn’t have to step over the bodies of classmates on the floor bleeding out. I don’t have to walk by that building as I go to class every day, but I feel it even where I live. I still see the signs on every street corner and on the backs of cars and on the shirts some wear.
So while the rest of the news cycle rests in the shade of Mueller, Daniels, Cohen, Macron, Jackson, and all the rest of them, Parkland and Coral Springs haven’t moved on.
It still hurts.