Tragedy strikes again, this time in Santa Fe. Yet, all we have been able to do is argue about who is to blame.
I woke up this morning in pretty much the same way as I have for the last several months, right before the alarm clock (iPhone) signaled the beginning of just another Friday. I lingered a tad longer in the bed because today, I was going to my local high school for Senior Awards Day, an annual celebration of achievements by the graduating class and the announcing of scholarships and awards garnered by the same.
I was going this year because my oldest grandson is among the honorees in this class. I will be going next week to watch him walk across the football field to receive his diploma, and start out on the next journey in his young life towards adulthood and his chosen career.
The high school auditorium was filled with proud parents and grandparents snapping photos, beaming broad smiles through periods of leaking eyes and rounding sessions of applause. The students themselves seemed to grasp the magnitude of the situation, acting with complete decorum and making all the attendees, school staff, and visiting dignitaries proud of the outstanding young men and women they had become.
After all the awards had been presented, and the excelling students recognized, we were treated to a montage of photos of the class, beginning with baby pictures, progressing to toddlers, teens, sports participants, and prom attendees. And then the students proudly marched out of the arena to “Pomp and Circumstance,” with heads held high.
A small reception followed and we were able to personally recognize him and some of his friends and their parents, finally dismissing to return to our homes or workplaces.
Upon getting home, I turned on the television to the horror that was Santa Fe High School, where once again, at least 10 people, some students just like the ones I had been mingling with at the same time, were gunned down in another round of senseless violence.
I really cannot describe the feeling that came over me as I watched the events of that scene being presented. Perhaps a cold chill, knowing it could have just as well been the event which I just attended. Maybe a feeling of hopelessness, knowing that it could happen tomorrow, next month, or next year at any of the schools in my own area.
Maybe a feeling of despair, in that it is happening again, only weeks after the shooting at Parkland in Florida, and we are no closer to solving the problem than we were a decade ago.
Maybe disgust, knowing that before the smoke clears, advocates on both sides of the gun control debate are preparing their talking points supporting their own positions, as grieving families try to understand why their child won’t be coming home after school today, or any other day. Why their child, filled with promise and an ever-brightening future, will be laid to rest in the next few days with all that hope, promise and future forever dimmed by a random act of violence.
My heart cries for the parents and the siblings, as well as their friends and classmates. I can’t begin to imagine the pain that is ripping through their own chests, much like the bullets that struck down their precious children. Words of comfort cannot replace the smiling, or even the brooding, faces that won’t be sitting at the dinner table tonight.
Those parents and grandparents will not see the same thing I witnessed this morning. They won’t see their child walk with their cap and gown, towards a stage to receive an award or a scholarship to continue their education.
We can talk about gun control, mental illness, or whatever you want next week. Tonight, and for the next few days, let’s just focus on the survivors and the families of the victims. And go wherever your kids or grandkids are tonight, hug them and tell them you love them, and thank God it didn’t happen to them.