Editor's Note: This blog post was originally written by Le Village founder Daniella Cornue following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022. It is a sad and horrific reality that ANOTHER mass shoot has taken place - this time very close to Le Village - in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4, 2022. The original post has been updated to include Highland Park and community events as mass shooting targets.
Across the country, at one point or another in the last week, mothers have cried. All of us. I don’t know a single mother that hasn’t teared up or downright wept. We cry because 19 children were shot in Uvalde, Texas. We cry because not 20 minutes away our friends were shot at during a parade. We worry and text. We try to find gratitude through our disillusionment.
We hug our babies or our toddlers or our teenagers a little tighter. We crush them to our chests and kiss the tops of their heads. We spend a little longer by their bedside. We linger. We watch them without them knowing. Laughing in the yard. Or puzzling over their homework. And we try not to think. Everything is a small moment. A quick breath. And then we tuck our tears away and we try to continue with our day. I see these mothers. These fathers. At Le Village watching their kids and just trying to drink it in after a week of collective trauma. We are all quietly asking ourselves the same horrifying questions.
What would I do? You can’t live in the world today and not have these haunting thoughts.
Today, I let myself feel all of this. I unpacked the weight in my chest and stared at the pieces. How can I live in a country that does not want to protect my perfect girl? Can’t they see what a wonder she is? I can’t fathom not seeing her. Not getting to hear her giggle or watch the way her eyes crinkle at the edges when she dances or how she sticks her tongue out when she thinks. I am scared to send her to school. I was nervous but ready for our impending separation as she graduates from Le Village, and now I’m just…terrified of her being away from me.
And then the questions start and I can’t make them stop. What if someone started shooting at this event? Where would we hide? What if something happened to me? What if she was at school? Would someone protect her? Would they throw their bodies upon her? Would they hide her? How can I ask that of someone else? Would my sweet, smart 3-year old have the sense to hide and be silent or would she burst into tears? Would she be alone and in pain and scared because someone hurt her? Would I ever forgive myself if something happened to her and I couldn’t be there to protect her?
I can’t…I can’t stop thinking about her hiding under a desk while shot and crying softly for me to come and get her. And I’m not there for her. And she dies alone and terrified and wondering why her Mama and Dada didn’t come when she needed them most. Or wandering around a parade terrified and alone because we wouldn’t wake up. Would I be conscious enough to hold her hand and tell her it was okay? To wipe her tears and remind her how much I love her? Or would my body be so torn I’d be gone in an instant? Is this what all of these parents are living? Is this their reality?
I can’t. I would not survive.
I think about it as a teacher. What would we do? I review lockdown protocols with my staff and make sure the doors are shut tight and auto-lock behind us. We double check. I think about the fastest exits and invest in door barricades. Because god-forbid. When I tell them, my teacher’s eyes are wide and resolute. I know that tonight when they go to sleep they will have fever-dreams of all of the dreaded what-ifs. What would they do?
I can’t go to an event anymore without worrying. Is this street fest safe? Would this concert be targeted? Where could we hide? Where is the nearest exit?
So many terrible questions that no one should ever, ever have to ask themselves. And at the end of all of it, I am angry. And I am sad. And I am terrified.
And then the biggest question looms loudly—screaming from every exhausted, anxious bone in my body: How could this country love their guns more than they love their babies?
I am from southern Ohio where guns and gossip run the town. I grew up with hunting rifles in the house. My Dad proudly takes my cousins and nephews deer hunting every year. It is a family past-time and I respect and honor that with them. But when I once asked a cousin who I like about why AR-15’s were ever necessary he shrugged and said, “It’s just for fun. They’re fun. People should be able to do what they want and have fun.” Is that what all this is? Are we having fun? I am definitely not having fun. I don’t think those terrified kids hiding under their desks without their parents to protect them, clinging to each other, sobbing and praying for their lives were having fun either.
It’s so selfish. And disgusting at this point. We have to stop leaning on the lies that plague this argument. The bottom line is that this only happens here in the United States. Period. And it only happens here because it is only allowed here. Our gun laws are nothing short of reckless. I am ashamed.
I don’t write this to be macabre. I just. I’m sick of trying to hide these fears. I’m sick of not saying them. I’m sick of all of us not saying them! Like if we hide it long enough it might just go away. Like it’s someone else’s story. Someone else’s tragedy. But it’s not! This fear belongs to all of us and it’s not going away. It is our collective failure and at any moment, it could be our collective tragedy.
I’m afraid that if I never put these fears onto paper that they’ll eat me from the inside. And the sadness and anger and the worry will consume me.
And so the final, most important question of all. And I am begging. For our wonderful, joyful, perfect babies. For the parents that love them more than anything in the world. Can we please set common sense gun-reform now? Can we please ban AR-15’s, high velocity bullets, and high capacity magazines for personal use? Can we outlaw bump-stocks and upgrade kits for personal use? If you wanna shoot that type of gun, that’s fine, go to a licensed range. Can we require universal licensing and registration for the people who the sell guns and the people that buy them? I don’t think these are insane asks. I am ready to compromise because anything has to be better than nothing.
Please, please, please, please. I will literally do anything to never have to live this reality.