By Angela Anagnost-Repke
Since the school shooting in Santa Fe, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night. My body stiffens. I picture my kindergarten son kissing me on the cheek as I sit in the driver’s seat. He steps out of the car with his backpack on and walks up to his line painted on the sidewalk, number 18. I picture him waiting there with hundreds of other kids bustling around him, ready to start school. I send him off like this every day. But since the horrific shooting, this image keeps waking me up in the middle of the night—only to go to a darker place.
My mind haunts me. It wants to wake me up to let me know that this can be a reality for my son. While in bed, I try to conquer my mind, to wrestle it, but I see guns. All kinds of guns. I picture frantic students running around. I see my son scared without me. While in my bed, my heart stops. My entire body clenches in fear as I close my eyes in my safe bed.
But this frightening image is another mother’s reality.
This image that plays in my mind and suffocates me in the middle of the night has proven to be true to another mother.
What’s worse is that I haven’t even turned on the news to watch the horror yet.
I can’t. I can’t because, as a mother, it’s already petrifying me.
And our American culture is becoming numb to this pain. “Thoughts and prayers” we see scribed all over social media. Many sincere. Many insincere.
No, I haven’t turned on the news yet regarding the Santa Fe school shooting. I can’t because I don’t want my kids to see it; they’re far too young. I can’t because it will petrify me. But mainly, I can’t because I fear for my own damn pain. It’s selfish. I am selfish.
We see many posts and articles after horrific shootings that try to swing to the positive. We read things like, “Look for the helpers,” “It starts in the home,” “Mold your children into loving people.” Yes, all of this is true. But we need more. There will still be bad people who can harm our children—regardless of what’s done in our homes. This is a fact. But we’re getting to the point where we are becoming lukewarm about school shootings. I see it every day.
We turn our heads. We shut off the TV. We don’t read about the victims. We don’t call representatives. We don’t join the rallies or walks. We stay silent. We carry on with our day as if no child died while in their school.
It comes down to this. The images that wake me in the middle of the night, those are another mother’s reality. She is grieving. She will never wake up without feeling grief scorch her. So for now, the least we can all do is take a minute to actually grieve with this mother—with this country. Because we are becoming numb to the pain of others. We are so numb that this is becoming our normalcy. We are so numb that we can’t talk about it. We ignore it.
For the sake of these mothers, all parents, who have suffered from the unimaginable, let’s talk about it. Maybe do something about it. I’ll start by watching the news and feeling the inevitable pain. I owe that to these mothers who have lost the most important person in their lives. I owe that to the victims—the victims whose dreams will never be achieved. I owe that to my own children, so that they can fulfill their own dreams in a world where we aren’t numb to kids being shot in school.
So today, the least I can do is try to grapple with the images that keep me awake at night and try to be sympathetic to the anguish that mothers are facing all over our country—a pain that is not numb to them—and never will be.
About the Author
Angela Anagnost-Repke is a flawed mother who turns to writing to help in both her daily blunders and rediscovering herself outside of motherhood. She has been published in Good Morning America, ABC News, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, MSN Lifestyle, and also has forthcoming literary essays in Literary Mama and The HerStories Project. Angela has an essay in an anthology by Belt Publishing. She is passionate about the comradery of motherhood and is an advocate of a moms’ night out. She is at work on a cross-generational memoir, Mothers Lie. Follow Angela on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.