what a world, what a world.

I dream very vividly, like watching a movie. In my most recent nightmare, I was across a packed arena from my youngest. The court turned into ice, and a 50 foot sport fish yacht lost control and was gliding across the length of the arena. I knew that it wouldn’t be able to stop. No amount of thrust could stop this boat from skating. In horror, I watched as it took out the crowded stands to my left and fell down off the edge of the arena. The place erupted in panic and terror, and I felt it. I spotted my son across from me, but there was no way for me to get to him because we didn’t know if the threat was over. I was frozen. I watched as a fireman tried to climb up from the abyss, an effort to report what he found – and he was electrocuted and fell back down into darkness.

This dream woke me with a fright so strong, I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep anytime soon. I felt compelled to check on my baby, (I use the term loosely) and kiss his head as he slept. “I didn’t do dishwasher” he mumbled. “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.” I took my pillow, book, and phone with me to the couch. I thought I’d try scrolling my only remaining social media, since that tends to lull me. But my feed was full of updates on the MSU shooting. I read my book until finally, distracted enough a couple of hours later, I relaxed back into sleep.

My family had a good week. Both of my offspring were offered positions on teams they were vying for. We celebrated and were excited. Which felt really bizarre, because we were also reeling from yet another shooting not too far from home. It’s so easy to say “what a small world” when we meet someone a few degrees separated from us. And then, it can feel like a massive planet when there is war on the other side, and we can’t hear it or feel it. And when there’s a shooting in another state? We practically dismiss it as we thank our lucky stars it wasn’t us.

These shootings are quite frequent. It’s February, and so far we’re at 71 mass shootings in the United States. If we mourned every one, we’d never recover. I’ve seen memes asking how many lives will it take for something to change? When will gun lovers acquiesce and agree that there are too many scary incidents happening in our country? When can we drop the line that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”? How do we solve this? Besides teachers holding doors closed with a bucket of golf balls, trying to protect their students, when will someone who can affect change adopt that same courage?

I don’t have the solution. I haven’t studied policies or proposed changes to figure out what needs to happen. But hasn’t somebody out there done that work? Could we follow Australia’s example? In my sleeplessness I created speeches that I would make should anything happen to my family members because of this redundancy. I would be out with venom placing blame on the terrorist responsible and those that aided and abetted said terrorist. I would not appreciate anyone’s thoughts and prayers. I’d spike them back to the sender, like a volleyball player at the net.

For now, though, as I help my youngest choose which path to take after high school, I will be racked with terror, for nowhere is safe. There isn’t anywhere anyone can go in the United States without risk of being shot at because someone is having a bad day. Or because someone is a vile person and they’ve been rejected multiple times and now have a vendetta. Or they need mental health intervention. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to heal as these wounds keep being shot open. I’m guessing we’re all waiting for a hero who will rise up and demand some sort of fix to the problem, and not simply divide us further with accusations and politics. At some point, when the old and crusty paid for politicians are out of office, we can hope that someone will see the value of our lives and the truest freedom of walking about unafraid.

I love words. Words swirl and dance around in my head. I have many deep thoughts. Some thoughts plague me. In order to release them, I have to assign the words. Once the words are strung together, I feel free again.

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