What I Would Give To Be Preoccupied By A Stupid Elf & Sample Letter To Congress For Stricter Gun Laws

Friday, December 14, 2012

9:48 PM

When the whole house is asleep, that’s when I will cry.  They all have to be asleep, because once I start, I won’t be able to stop.  And it’s a cry I want to do alone.

I don’t want my family to see how broken my faith is and how scared I am.  I don’t want them to think that I am making something that happened half way across the country all about me.  I actually have no idea what I am doing, except grieving along with the country and the world over how broken it all is.

I almost can’t bear the fear in my chest right now.  Maybe that’s the weight of the cry I keep putting off– first a snack, then a load of laundry, then a blog post.  I’ve been carrying around this cry since I heard the awful news.  I saw the headline on my home screen, but it didn’t seem real. I was moving so fast trying to finish up my grading for the semester, so I thought, “I misread that.”  But when the grading was over and I packed up my computer, Twitter and Facebook and strangers’ conversations confirmed the worst.

The absolute fucking worst thing I have ever heard.

Now, I’d give anything to be writing a post about a stupid Elf or how I screwed up Hanukkah.  I’d give my last wish for my biggest source of turmoil to be too much holiday frenzy or too much pudding.

Man, there’s not enough pudding in the world to make me feel better tonight.  I am tempted, this former bulimic, to see if food will fix this awful feeling in my cells.  The feeling that forms the words, “We are not safe.”  But, I’m holding off on the pudding for now. It won’t fix anything; it’s not a refuge from the pain.

Most nights I go to bed with a prayer on my lips of gratitude for my healthy family, and there’s almost always a PS that requests that they sleep through the night and not try to come into my bed and thrash around all night long.

Tonight, I am praying they do.  I want them close beside me.  They can’t possibly be close enough.

* * *

Saturday, December 15, 2012

8:25 PM

Improbably, they are all asleep again.

I need something to do with  my hands, besides wringing them in horror and grief.  Sadie asked me today, “Why do you keep kissing me so much?” I didn’t tell her why, and even though I have not turned on my TV or listened to the radio, I heard enough to have horrible images burned in my mind.

Don’t we all.

I have seen articles telling us to write letters to our elected officials asking for stricter gun control laws.  Ok.  That’s something.  I’ll start there.

I have drafted a sample that you are welcome to copy and use.  If you know of other ways we can make our country safer or be of assistance/support to those who are suffering unthinkable losses, please tell me.  Please.

Sample Letter (click here to find your Senator’s address) (FN1):

December 15, 2012

Senator Richard J. Durbin

711 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington D.C., 20510

Dear Senator Durbin,

Thank you for your willingness to serve the public.  As a voter and taxpayer in your district, I respectfully request that you support any and all gun control legislation, including and especially an assault weapon ban.  I implore you to also introduce legislation that would make it harder for guns to reach the hands of persons who are mentally unstable and who wish to take human lives.

As you are likely aware, research (such as economist Richard Florida’s work) indicates that   States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths.  Since research confirms that firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation, I am imploring you, my elected official, to put tighter gun control laws at the top of your agenda.

While the path to both fixing and healing our country must proceed on multiple fronts, and the tragedies that keep occurring are complex, stricter gun control laws are a sine qua non of the solution.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.  I look forward to seeing progress from Congress that would make our country safer for all of us, especially our children.


C. O. Tate

FN 1: I plan to write to both of my federal senators as well as my state officials.  Also, former President Bill Clinton suggested that a referendum on the issue would be the most effective way to have stricter gun control laws on the books. I am looking into that and will report back.

* * *

Sunday, December 16, 2012

9:26 PM

The kids are asleep and Jeff’s in the shower. I have checked on my sleeping beauties twice so far.  It won’t be long before Sadie crawls in bed with us for the night and Simon calls out to us.  We will go to him.

I have avoided the TV and the news for the most part.  CNN was on the TV at the gym– I peeked more than once. When I saw a demonstration of the difference between a Glock and those other guns, I said to myself, “No more. Stop looking.” I meant it so I didn’t look up again.

I am mailing my letters tomorrow.  It’s feeble, but it’s something.  And something is better than nothing.  I think this change will come from the Mamas.  We mothers who will have to face dropping our children off at school tomorrow– and the rest of their days– we will be the ones who will foment change and demand of our officials that gun laws be strengthened.

Or at least it will be me.  And I’m a mother.

* * *

In closing, I am posting links to articles that have brought me great solace this weekend– these bloggers are thinking and praying and asking and suggesting.  They are part of my solution, the world’s solution.  I share them with you.

For great reminders that are hard to think about, see Naptime Writing.

For thoughts on the gendered nature of the violence and how each of us contributes to a culture of violence, check out Moments of Exhilaration.

For insights from a thoughtful and loving father, see TheJackB.

For more political insights, see Maybe I Should Blog.


39 thoughts on “What I Would Give To Be Preoccupied By A Stupid Elf & Sample Letter To Congress For Stricter Gun Laws

  1. I don’t know what to do either, but I have to believe that every little thing that keeps the discussion of how to fix this on the table is right.

    My heart breaks all over again reading your words, but it feels good to not be alone in battling this grief, confusion, and anger. I love your letter.

  2. I love your letter, and if you don’t mind, I’m going to use it. Am too tired to write my own after being up in the night with my Second grader who had a nightmare about “getting killed.” I am incensed by other bloggers out there who suggest that by writing and talking about this, we are making it “our own.” When I have to sit down with my 8 year old and have a conversation that’s worse than the sex talk, then IT IS MY OWN. When I have to worry about her mental state now because of this, IT IS MY OWN. Sorry for ranting…I am pissed and raw. BTW, she knew nothing of the event b/c we don’t have the news on, but her school sent an email yesterday saying they’d be praying about it in Chapel this morning, so Husband and I felt it best to give her the basic facts. Maybe we did the wrong thing. Maybe we just should have ignored it. But the fact is, some kid at school is going to know about it and talk about, and I’d rather her hear it from me. Man, parenthood sucks sometimes.

  3. Thank you for putting into words what we all, especially as moms, are thinking. Every time I think about what happened (and I live in NY, border of Connecticut, so it’s closer to home for me), I feel so much guilt for ever being annoyed by, or needing a break from, my little girl. I want to hug her tight and never let her go. For me, the hardest realization about this tragic event is that no matter how hard we may try, we can’t always protect our children because sometimes the world is a scary, scary place.

    Thank you for letting me use the letter. I hope some change will come of this.

  4. Perfect. Exactly what I would say if I wasn’t so scared of the continuous flow of tears and nausea whenever I sit down to write. Thank you for saying this for all of us. More hugs all around.

  5. I think it’s fantastic that you’ve provided a sample letter to make it easy for people to write their representatives. We’ve got to raise our voices to effect change. I also donated to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence this morning because I feel I have to start putting my money where my mouth is with this topic. I can’t just be sad and then go back to normal and stuff my head back in the sand on this topic–as we have as a nation after every other shooting massacre in recent memory. I just can’t do that anymore.

  6. Good for you Christie and thanks so much for sharing. I still can’t read the paper without crying. We took a chance and did not tell our 8yo. He’ll probably hear in school but I’m hoping that by some miracle he doesn’t. He is already scared of bad guys and comes in our room most nights. You are right, too much pudding would be a nice problem to have right now. I hope us Mamas are enough to impact gun control.

  7. I’m thankful my kids are too young for me to have to discuss this with them. I can’t stop thinking and crying about it, and of course it’s ours! It’s every parent’s – forget that – every human’s tragedy. I’m scared here in Canada. If I lived in the States I would be frankly terrified to leave my house. I hate that when I visited a new daycare this summer, the first thing I thought was, “Why am I able to just walk in here? What if I had a gun?” and left my daughter in the controlled entrance daycare for now.

  8. I am very appreciative of this post. I have been dealing with my own mourning in private– away from my children. It makes me feel good that there are people like me. I can’t keep my mind off of it even though I’ve avoided news and internet, and even though I’m several states away. I, too, am a teacher, so the perspectives of teacher, parent, and just plain human are too much to think about. I am so, so sad. Heavy-hearted. Anxious. All of the feelings you described. Thank you for sharing; you’re definitely not alone.

  9. We didn’t tell our 9 yr old but the 12 yr old knows. And she is curious and questioning and interested and confused and maybe scared but not saying. Hell, I’m scared and I’m saying it! I am scared. I am scared of what will happen if we don’t come together, STAY TOGETHER, figure this out together without regard to how far left or right the changes lean. I have decided, though, that I’m going to talk to her this evening because I don’t want her misinformed and I don’t want her unnecessarily frightened (ha! Unnecessarily frightened. Is there such a think as unnecessary now?)

    Thank you for the letter. I need something to DO. Also, look. I wrote a whole comment without cursing. Wait, does hell count? Dammit. Ugh! Oh. Never mind.

  10. The restrictions on who can get them are important, I agree. That being said, I think all states should be allowed to conceal and carry. Those moms and dads and teachings staff who have a gun hidden in there purse just might be able to stop the person who pushes his way into a school or movie theatre or mall, with guns out in the open and ready to shoot. I mean, i agree with you to an extent, but guy took the guns from his mom, who was also killed by her own mentally ill son, so he didn’t need to get his own. I agree with a ban on assault guns though. No civilian should need that. Horrifying.

  11. Yes, stricter gun control laws and a full-out ban on assault weapons. Won’t be easy in my gun-slinging, NRA-saturated state, but I will use your letter, if you don’t mind, since I’m not focusing well these days.

  12. Man. now I feel guilty for writing a post about an elf, but in my defense I had the rough draft for two weeks and just polished it up.
    I didn’t write about the CT tragedy adn refuse to. I have too many emotions, buy in, ideas, etc to start. I’m a mother, teacher, American, libertarian, empath, etc etc.
    I was glad my work/school, a high school, mentioned nothing about the tragedy Friday, our last day before break. I mean, how do you mention it? How do you go on?
    And to ramble some more, I like your letter. It should be not as easy to get a gun as it is a sandwich. And I say this coming a gun-sports family (my family has even won local skeet shoot competitions) and I have gone for sport as well a few times. But getting a gun should be as difficult or more than a driver’s license. Tests, exams, practice, practicum, and a criminal check- FBI- nation-wide. I do not see it as against your freedom, because you can still harm or kill with rocks and sticks and the like, if needed, to protect oneself.
    We also need more security in schools. A wacked-out criminal is not likely to follow the law and can obtain a gun illegally. So even all the laws in the world can’t protect everyone from a gun death.
    -=so to summarize my ramblings, we need to increase school security and crisis training, stiffen gun obtainability laws, and we really need to work on mental illness. It is a stigma and many ignore it or 65`treat it the wrong way, leading to tragedies of many sorts.

  13. i’m on the verge of a breakdown every other minute… i can’t think about it at all, can’t see it, can’t hear it. i want to go LALALALALALALA. and make it not true.. sometimes the reality we live in is the saddest mother fucking truth. i can’t stand the fragility, the crazy, the nightmare. I can’t stand the thought.
    i like your letter…

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