I’m not a terribly sentimental guy. The other shootings, those this year and years earlier have washed over me. I’ve been able to smugly shake my head at America. But this last one in Connecticut is different. I’m destroyed by it and I don’t know why.
Last night we went to a christmas part for Kellan’s daycare. When I got there, I pulled my little guy into a great big hug. He squealed, pulled away and went to play with some toys. I smiled, but didn’t feel better. When Leah and Liam arrived, I gave him a great big hug, longer, tighter than usual. But I didn’t feel better.
When we got home, I started to read twitter, the news. Usually in times of stress, my virtual community is a balm, because my shit isn’t everyone else’s. But reading twitter only made me cry. I don’t cry, as a rule. I thought maybe the news would be better. Information, for me, is a calming tool. Facts are impersonal. But there is no news, only conjecture & opinion and what facts there are too horrible to comprehend. 20,000 dead is a statistic. 2 dead is a tragedy. 27 dead falls just beyond comprehension, but not so far as to be dehumanized.
Last night, I had terrible nightmares. I went back to that daycare party, but there was only bloodied, dead toddlers and screaming parents, not dancing and merriment. In my dreams, over and over I saw Liam lying on the ground, riddled with bullets. I saw my wife bleeding & crying holding a limp & lifeless Kellan. Over and over.
I didn’t wake refreshed this morning. I don’t feel better. Everyone is still stuck on this. Those feeds that are stuck on this topic I can’t read because it’s too terrible, too close. Those people not talking about this seem out of touch and useless. I can’t move on yet – how can you?
And through it all, this low-level, but rising disgust at the discussions taking place about the role of guns, the cultural values of gun-ownership, and mental health. I’ve distilled my current thoughts to this:
If you believe it’s ok to own guns, you are culpable in this massacre.
If you don’t believe in free, easy access to mental healthcare, you are culpable in this massacre.
I don’t know if that will change. When I first wrote the above, I had it set as “morally culpable”. But that’s not quite what I feel. That gives your opinion a distance from this massacre that I think isn’t excusable. And those are harsh, extreme opinions that will likely temper over time. But you know what? There’s been dozens of other chances for the gun lobby to prove that ownership can prevent, or lessen the impact of these attacks. But where’s the story of the heroic gunmen who killed the assailant? What? there aren’t any? Fuck you and your rhetoric then. You shouldn’t pay for someone else’s mental illness? Health coverage shouldn’t be a right? How many of the last, oh, dozen mass-shooters in America were not mentally ill? How many were off medication because of difficulties in getting access? or paying for it? or simply the social stigma? Fuck you and your rhetoric then.
I hope this feeling goes away. I wish I felt angry, or sad. Those would feel like progress from where I sit right now. I have a weekend with my family ahead of me, a party to attend tonight. But I don’t know how to get through the day right now. I don’t know how I’ll stop my eyes from filling with tears today. I don’t know how to mend myself. I don’t know what it is about this story thousands of kilometres away that has so broken me, but it has.