Late in the evening of May 23, 2014, I received a text from my daughter that would change our lives forever. At the time, she was a freshman at UC Santa Barbara. Her text said that she and her friends had heard what they thought was gunfire, and she wanted me to know that she was safe. I told her it was probably fireworks or a car backfiring and thanked her for letting me know she was safe. An answer I would soon regret.
The next morning I discovered that six of her fellow students were dead and 14 others injured. My immediate reaction was to jump in the car, drive five and a half hours, bring her home and lock her in her room… forever. I know, not realistic, but a natural Mom reaction, right?
Since then, I’ve tried to convince myself that we are one of the lucky ones. She wasn’t killed. She wasn’t physically injured. But the scars are still there. I will never forget that text. I will never forget the hours and hours of her tears. I will never forget holding her shaking body through the entire 4th of July fireworks six weeks after the shooting.
I would do just about anything if I could remove that horrific event from her life. To take away that ever-present and yet hidden well of sadness inside her. But I can’t.
The best I can do is to raise my voice and demand common-sense gun laws in the hopes that no other young person experiences what she did, or worse.
Our kids deserve a lot more than thoughts and prayers. They deserve our strength, our support and our fight.