‘Tonight, you can sleep in my bed.’: Mom speaks about telling her children the tragedy of the Uvalde shooting

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“You can sleep in my bed tonight. Any night, really. I won’t pretend I don’t like hearing you breathe, and the occasional soft touch of your hand as you accidentally land it on my face as you turn over in your dreams. I won’t pretend part of me doesn’t wish we could just stay right here in this king-size safe place.

I told my kids what happened in Texas. I’ve had to tell them about this unspeakable situation before. Too many times. I tell them in a way that I think is age-appropriate. So that they hear it from me instead of on the school bus or on the playground. I tell them so I can answer their questions. I tell them so I can tell myself I did. I tell them so I can hear myself say that this is why they do lockdown drills, that they should always be aware of their surroundings. I tell them that their schools are very safe so that I can hear it out loud and sense if it sounded shaky or confident. Was it believable? Do I believe it?

And every time I tell them, a little more of my heart breaks. They’re not scared—and that’s good because I don’t want them to live their lives scared. But the truth is, life is scary. It can be scary in the most beautiful, breathtaking, jaw-dropping, adrenaline-rushing ways. And, unfortunately, it is scary to the point of paralysis—unspeakable horrors and violence resulting in us wanting to stay in that king-size safe place instead of living outside where children can be killed at school.

So where do we go from here? I wish I had the answer. I admit I’m not an expert on gun control legislation (lack thereof) or why some people think gun control won’t actually solve the problem. I can’t bear to read it because, while I’m often commended for really listening to both sides of a story and taking all perspectives into account, I truly don’t see how any human could think the situation this country is in is acceptable.

Somebody’s child is dead. And somebody’s mom. And somebody’s friend. Lots of somebody’s somebodies, to be clear. What if it was your somebody? Would it matter then?

It needs to matter now. We hear a lot about ‘thoughts and prayers,’ ‘unspeakable violence’ and ‘unspeakable tragedy.’ But it’s not unspoken. I’m sure the Sandy Hook families are tired of having to increase the volume of their pain, their pleas, their words, their experiences, and their push for change.  They’ve been speaking loudly about this for almost a decade. And the Columbine families. And Parkland. And so, so many others. Why are these voices not being heard? How can we band together to speak loudly enough?

I truly don’t have the answers, other than knowing that staying in this king-size safe place is not it. Not forever, anyway. I know we need to stay strong and not let what we can’t control get in the way of living. I even boldly stated in one of my first published pieces that we have to keep going on. But I didn’t mean without change.

When we send our kids off to school tomorrow, our hearts will be heavy but racing, our nerves will be aflame, and our eyes will be tearful but smiling so we don’t scare our kids. I still believe we have to ‘Open the door.’ Say ‘I love you.’ ‘Go,’ as a way to keep moving forward. But it sure is getting harder to stay strong while doing it.

I haven’t figured out yet how to drive change. So tonight, you can sleep in my bed. I will rub your back when you whisper-ask me to. I will hold your tiny hand. I will protect you with all my heart. I will hold you and be present and I will vow to fight for change. Tonight, that is all I can do, in hopes that when you are a parent, you won’t have to.”

A family of five sitting outside together
Courtesy of Karen Lesh

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Karen Lesh. Follow her journey on Facebook, Instagram, and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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