Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Uvalde Elementary School

Its unimaginable that less than 10 days after posting about the Buffalo mass shooting, another tragedy has hit our country.  As of this morning, 19 children and 2 adults have been killed in Texas by an 18-year-old with assault-style rifles.

I remember the paralyzing fear I felt any time something would happen at school while Tyler was in the building.  Being less ambulatory and cognitive than other students, he would be entirely at the mercy of a bad situation.  He wouldn't have the ability to run, hide, or even fight back as the situation would warrant.  First, your mind goes completely blank while your brain fights to place all focus into one place.  Then, within a second, the brain fills with a million thoughts.  I'd almost instinctively try to tap into his mind to decipher what he might be seeing or thinking.  

One day perhaps 15 years ago, I received a call that no special needs parent (or any parent) ever wants: "we don't know where Tyler is".  I remember the blood draining from every part of me.  Fighting for information, fighting for the sense of where he could be, and fighting the urge to panic.  A supervisor in the care agency had come to our house to check on him and his day caregiver, and they were not there.  The caregivers were not permitted to remove him from his property.  They checked the park and other nearby areas but neither could be found.  While it was easy to consider the 100 logical possibilities, it was just as easy to imagine the scary ones.  Ty was out there with someone where he wasn't supposed to be with no means of defense.  He was essentially alone to fend for himself.  Fortunately the caregiver returned shortly after everyone came to the house to investigate.  She was instructed to stay off of the property so I couldn't interact with her, and she was immediately fired.  She never revealed where she went with Tyler.  Tyler seemed to be in no level of distress, and a head-to-toe exam did not uncover any concerns.  I'm still sick that I don't know where he was.

Image that nightmare 1000 times more terrifying.  Parents gathered yesterday in a reuniting building to learn the fate of their small children.  Unbearable hours had already passed while they prayed for the best but feared for the worst.  One by one it became reality for some families.  One report said the the screams and cries of agonized families could be heard in the parking lot.  Parents finding out that their young child, maybe 7 or 8 years old, spent their final minutes alone, bleeding to death on a floor.  Forever they will wonder if their child called out to them or simply cried silently while dying.  

Sadly, nothing will change.  Sandy Hook changed nothing and neither will this.  Gun-rights activists are already lining up their statements about our failing mental health systems and need for more armed guards.  There is truth to both of these statements, but their goal is to deflect all talk away from the actual weapons themselves.  80% of Americans support background checks, however, legislation stalls and does not pass.  If the 2nd amendment is "the rights of the people", why isn't the 80% also the rights of the people?

Lets pray that somehow we find a way to never allow another parent to feel that sense of panic ever again.  

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