I woke up this morning and I have to admit, I was scared.
You ever wake up and a sudden feeling of sadness hits you, but it takes a moment to register why? That’s what it was like this morning.
I woke up to a dark cloud hovering over my bed.
It took a second.
And then, yes, it hit me.
More lives lost.
So many mothers grieving.
I am sorry.
I am praying.
I am crying.
And I feel a bit guilty, for a sudden relief flooded my being after I realized what had caused the sadness, and that my sons were in their beds, safe and snoring.
When 9/11 happened, my oldest son was too young to understand it all. We had just moved to Maryland, and on that day, we were on our way to Hershey Park for a fun time. Instead, we turned around and headed home, shocked as more information poured in.
But as horrific as it was, I did not have to grapple with having to explain to my young son how such a thing could happen.
At least, not yet.
Through the years, there were more shootings, more lives lost in unacceptable violence.
All of the victims were someone’s loved one, someone’s child.
Somewhere, a mother’s heart was broken irreparably.
Somewhere, a father itched to spring into action and save his child, but it was too late.
And in our home, two little boys were suddenly old enough to want answers.
But I never had the right ones to give.
My best effort paled beside the enormity of those tragedies.
My children are growing up in a world where shootings have become a part of life.
They go to schools that include safety drills in their academic schedules.
The phrase “active shooter situation” is not something they know only from novels or the movies.
My youngest son was in a real lock-down, and to this day I still tear up when I remember how he described the experience.
His class was crouched together, in the dark.
Some had started crying quietly, while some stared into the darkness with wide, fear-filled eyes.
To distract them, their teacher whispered she had candy in her desk drawer, and they could all have some later. Once the police gave the all clear.
My boy was calm and quiet, just as instructed, but inside, he was calling for us.
I am scared.
My older son was in a class that included training on how to respond to active shooters. The leaders dramatized various scenarios, and the students had to respond to each one like these were actually happening. My boy said he kept his cool the whole time, that he was able to help take the aggressors down, and it made him realize even more what he wanted to do career-wise, in the future.
I am so scared.
My children are growing up in a world so different from what I grew up with. And they are being shaped by all the things that happen around them, by the ones that make the news and the ones that touch them on a more personal level.
My children are growing up in diversity. Their best friends come from different cultures and lifestyles, and these friendships teach them how to love those who do not look and believe as they do.
My children are growing up, and it is my job to make sure they grow toward the right direction.
God. Love. Faith. Family. Service.
Even though I am scared.
It is so much easier to teach them to build fences, and to bolster their defenses.
They are, after all, boys, and building forts is a fun game for them.
But they will be men someday.
And I am determined, no matter how many sleepless nights I will have to go through, that they will be brave men of action.
Whatever they decide to do in the future, they will do with empathy and respect toward others.
Service must be the way of [their] life.
I am the mother of boys and my most lasting response to the tragedies of these recent days and years is to raise up men of courage who will live for all what is good and true.
And have the backbone to do more living, not just talking.
I am still scared, scared for what all these could mean for my sons.
But I will not hide, because they are watching me.
Somewhere, in Orlando or Beirut, or elsewhere, a mother will never get to see her child come home.
I am so sorry.
I still get to wrap my arms around my own, however reluctantly they may suffer my attentions.
I am so grateful.
Real gratitude leads to action.
We do what we can with what we have to give.
I am scared, but I promise to do what I can, with what I have to give.