It's been an emotional couple of days for me and my family in the wake of the preventable tragedy that claimed 17 lives at a Florida School. Sure, we didn't lose a loved one, but as a parent I can only imagine what the families who lost their children are going through.
Watching parents struggle through losing their child hits me and hurts me. When I allow myself to really listen to their pain and their experience, it physically and emotionally sickens me. I am sad, angry, terrified, and shocked, because it could've been my child's school instead of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
My daughter is the center of my universe, and to lose her, especially in such a violent manner, would shatter my world. But the sad reality is that this is a real possibility.
Unfortunately, I can no longer say "this won't happen to me" and these days, I spend every waking minute worrying about what I would do without her.
I Am Terrified Of Losing My Child
For years, I've been driving my daughter to school, we hug goodbye, and we go about our day. I head to work without a worry in the world, because I knew that she was in safe hands.
Her father and I have had conversations with her about stranger danger, road safety, bullying, and how to handle certain situations that may arise while she's at school, but we never thought there would come a day when we had to sit her down and talk about school shootings.
The thing is we can talk and protest about it all we want, but that's not going to protect my daughter or bring back the ones who were slain. Gun control aside, we're failing to protect our kids while we sit and argue about what can be done, and it breaks my heart to know that right now my child could be unexpectedly taken away from me at any given time.
The image of Andrew Pollack talking about losing his daughter, Meadow, during the listening session held by President Donald Trump at the White House is burned in my mind, because with the way things have been going, that could've been me in his place. No school, child, teacher or parents is immune, and he reminded all of us of that.
A Mother's Worry
I can't even begin to properly capture the love that I have for my daughter in words. There is nothing I can write that will ever be able to properly convey the emotion, and the thought that tomorrow could be the last day that I drop her off at school, because some maniac decided to fire rounds at her, is what has been keeping me at night.
I cry and I worry, and lately, every time my cell phone rings while I'm at work, I panic. I live with the dread that I could one day get the call that my daughter's school has been the target of an attack.
The thought that my child may one day be forced to flee for her life or hide under a desk or a bookshelf to protect herself is unbearable. Even if she does survive, I worry about the impact the trauma of watching her friends and classmates around her die will have on her for the rest of her life.
My fear, anxiety, and paranoia levels are all out of whack because I have no other choice but to send my child to school, where I know she isn't exactly safe because the proper security measures are non-existent.
I've Put My Trust In A System That Doesn't Work
"I didn't think it was going to happen to me. If I knew that, I would have been at the school every day if I knew it was that dangerous," Pollack said.
The problem is that neither I nor other parents can be at school every day to watch out for our children. As parents we place a certain degree of trust on our children's schools, but lately, at least for me, that trust has diminished greatly.
According to the multiple media reports that I've come across since the Florida shooting, school officials knew that the perpetrator was dangerous, I mean, he was even expelled! Authorities were also reportedly warned about the 19-year-old's intentions. Between 2008 and 2017, Boward County deputies received at least 18 calls about his plans to "shoot up the school," but guess what? Nothing was done. Nothing.
This makes me sick to my stomach. How do we not have the proper protocols and security measures to ensure armed strangers don't just walk into a school and start firing rounds?
I am traumatized and so is my child. I now have to worry about things that never crossed our minds before the increase in school shootings. Like should I let my daughter wear her bright colored top to school? Because if she was ever in an active shooter situation I fear that it could make her an easy target.
I had lots of hope that after Sandy Hook we would see changes, but once again I have been let down. Why do we continue to let this happen?
My Family Shouldn't Have To Live Like This
Why is it that we never question the need for security in other establishments, like our malls, airports, and office buildings, but when it comes to our schools, where our children spend most of their days at, we can't do the same?
There's no doubt that there is no universal solution that will easily solve the problem, but we need think of one and quickly.
I am sick and tired of having mixed emotions about my daughters safety while she's at school. It's not right. She has every right to receive an education without fearing for her life, or those of her friends. It's unacceptable.
I don't want my child to end up being another statistic. I need her beside me. I want to see her grow up into the fearless woman she is meant to be. I want her to go to be able to get her learner's permit, go to homecoming, fall in love, cheer at a prep rally, attend prom, and graduate.
We Have To Stop Letting Our Children Down
I can't bear the thought of a future where I have to go to a cemetery to visit my child. As a parent, you're not supposed to bury your child, they are supposed to bury you one day, and the idea of losing a child is beyond comprehension. It would be like being perpetually trapped in a nightmare of memories that will never fade, and neither will the grief. It would be enough to drive a strong person insane.
I'm fed up with our country being so divided about an issue that concerns the safety of our children. It is time we put our children first, and do what's best for them. It is my responsibility to make sure my daughter is cared for and safe, and I will not rest until I see change in schools. We can no longer continue to let our children down.
This is not about left or right, this is about the precious lives of innocent children who deserve to grow up into adults and experience life as they should.
I don't care which party you associate with, or whether or not you support gun control, I need you to stand with me and take action so I don't have to spend the next couple of years incessantly worrying about my daughter's safety.
I need you to stand with her, because she needs us all.