Senseless: Eight years after Sandy Hook

The rocking chair envelops me as I feed my four-month-old son. He chugs the bottle, hands gripped on either side. His legs periodically kick out. I stroke his wild mane of hair. The TV chatters in the background. The woodsy scent of pine and sweet smell of sap waft over to us. Our Christmas tree stands in holiday glory next to the rocking chair.
All I remember is feeling elated to finally be a mother. This is my first child, and this is his first Christmas. We seem so cozy nestled together. A grin spreads across my face. My arms feel empty when I’m not holding my son. He’s only four-months-old, but I already can’t imagine a life without him. In this moment, my life before him seems dim and muted.
The music used for breaking news stories plays on the TV, and curious, I grab the remote and turn the volume up.
The anchor is choked up, barely able to get his words out. My breath catches; Nothing has been shared yet, but as the anchor collects himself, I feel a shadow expand around me. The manner exhibited by the anchor is foreboding.
He finally sputters out that 26 people have been shot and killed at a school called Sandy Hook; Twenty of them are children. I freeze.
A wave of panic ripples through my body. I look down at my son still chugging his bottle. I clutch him close to me as I sink down to the floor. Taking deep breaths, I blink my eyes in rapid succession.
The anchor attempts to continue, but he’s clearly bothered by the news. What details are known are relayed to viewers. A panel is quickly ushered on. The lead anchor still struggles to control his emotions.
I also struggle. Despite my best efforts, my body begins to shake. I should put my son down, but I feel if I lose physical connection with him, I might completely lose myself.
My hand shakes as I reach for my phone to call my husband. When he answers, my voice breaks.
Eight years later, we all know the story. Eight years later, nothing meaningful has been done to stop mass shootings. Eight years later, hundreds more have died needlessly.
When Sandy Hook happened, we all shook our heads, assumed this was the last straw. But we were wrong. If the death of 20 innocent children and hundreds more is not enough to enact change, I fear nothing will ever be enough to bring about meaningful change.
As a mother, I live daily with the thought that I could potentially lose my children. Since my son became old enough to start school, that fear has increased. The thoughts are not always in the forefront, but each lingers with insidious taunts.
Today, we remember Sandy Hook, but I ask for the millionth time, what will it take for us to enact change? What will it take for us to support substantial legislation that can dramatically reduce mass shootings? What will it take to care more about human lives than political agendas? We need to take these remembrances and actually do something about it.

By Imperfection

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter is a mom and writer from Omaha, Nebraska but recently relocated to Urbandale, IA. When she’s not chasing children, picking up messes or reorganizing the house, she enjoys yoga or reading to relax. In her spare time (A.K.A. her dreams) she’s a Broadway star. Kuenning-Pollpeter is a freelance marketer during the day, a creative writer at night. Her work has appeared in the Brevity blog, The Omaha World Herald, 13th Floor, Misbehaving Nebraskans, Hippocampus, Emerging Nebraska Writers and Random Sample Review. She has her BFA and MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her essay “The Body” was a McKenna Fellowship finalist, and her essay “Imperfection” was a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee. She is blind and writes frequently about disability. She’s working on a memoir about the disabled feminine experience. With the kids though, expect it in stores in about a decade.

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