The deep sinking feeling that all parents know so well; the moment when your child has disappeared and you suddenly don’t know where they are. Your heart skips a beat before it begins to pound uncontrollably. The pit of your stomach churns and there is an urge to vomit. Panic is quickly coursing through your veins and you frantically begin searching for your missing child. Frantically, you call their name and begin to run. Your eyes dart form place to place! Where are they? There!
Just as quickly as it begins however your kid comes around the corner and your world returns to normal. Your pulse evens out and your breathing slows down too.
For 17 Florida families however, that horror has overwhelmed them with a sickening darkness and they are stricken. Bodies of children lay motionless in hallways and classrooms. The next of kin, friends and acquaintances are out of their minds with fear praying the nightmare unfolding will somehow spare them. But they know by now it will not. Their lives are forever altered by the vile depravity of a 19-year-old former student with no sense of decency and no moral compass at all. He is without question a cold-blooded monster that maimed and murdered their children for no reason at all.
The pundits and talking heads will now endlessly debate the policies and the politics of guns while mothers’ wretch in agony. Fathers weep silently and a community has its heart violently torn out. The news presenters will go into overtime to express their faux anguish long enough to reach the next commercial break where laughing models will sell you soap, solutions and of course brand new cars. That American Dream however has now evaporated for these children and their families in the ruthless and pointless hail of bullets that turned yet another American High School into a slaughter pen.
I sit here wondering how a parent could ever come to terms with such a senseless and devastating loss. That feeling of panic and wondering where your child is will stay with them for the rest of their days. They will search for answers when none will be satisfactory. They will search for peace when it will prove elusive. They will pray and many will hear only silence. They will be unable to hear because of the deafening roar of their own broken hearts. I pray for their healing and I pray they will one day be able to hear God again. He is weeping too you know.
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The gut wrenching minutes will turn to hours and then to days and then to weeks, months and years. The TV cameras will leave after the media vultures have picked the last specks of humanity from their grieving bones. They will be all but forgotten by the outside world. The next gruesome spectacle will steal the show at the top of the grim daily garbage heap we call the 24 hour news cycle.
The day’s ghastly violence will be played over and over again until the last drop of blood has been squeezed from everyone involved.
The TV panels will perorate, the columnists will expound in trite palaverous and garrulous epics of societal failures and yet they will not solve one dispute or spare any of us from the next. They will bloviate and highlight their extreme intelligence for us all to see. There will be some that will freely admonish and berate us for our perceived moral deficiencies for allowing these tragedies to continue and for too many of our children to pay the final price for our inept foolishness.
None of this will matter for those who lost 17 souls to a ghoulish monster with arguably no soul at all. For those the incessant blathering will be nothing but noise in the background of a raging nightmare from which they cannot escape.
For them all they have left is the silence, the heartbreaking silence that I cannot fathom.