I see the ramifications of the shootings ripple through our lives. I saw a string of tweets yesterday about being jittery in movie theaters. Someone getting up out of his seat during the movie can cause the rest of the audience to freak out. Also, some of the pediatric hospital appearances of the Route 29 Batman have been cancelled because seeing someone in a Batman costume may be upsetting to young patients and their families. And I wrestle with whether or not to let my tween go by herself to the movies with a group of friends.
As parents, one of our primary jobs is to protect and prevent. We teach our children how to wear bike helmets, not to talk to strangers, and how to cross the street safely. And yet, Aurora is a terrible example of a random tragedy that is completely out of our control. It’s something we must live with — that terrible, unpredictable things can happen and we can do nothing to prepare for them.
And yet, we can’t live our lives trying to plan for the random. Staying away from movies or public places. Or strangers. Or costumes. Because what we lose then is far greater than any sense of security we may think we’ve gained.
I have been thinking of the mothers of all those who were killed and injured in Aurora — of all those years they spent saying “Be careful,” and holding hands in parking lots. A lifetime of protecting that was torn away in seven minutes of horror no one could have planned for.
I also think of the mother of the shooter, because who could plan for that either? What must be going through her mind. Did she try to help her child? Did she know he needed it? I can attest that finding both quality and affordable mental health care for a child who needs it is extremely challenging. All those years she spent teaching kindness and compassion — where did it all go wrong?
The lessons of Aurora are still unfolding in my mind. I try to live life without being afraid of the unimaginable, because that’s no way to live. And yet, I can’t send my kids off to a public place without feeling a momentary flash of panic. All any of us can do is let our children know they are loved, that life is precious, and that their mental health is just as important as their physical health. And then pray for the best.