I’m looking up at the sky. How many stars can I see in the night? Dozens? Hundreds? A thousand upon a thousand?
And if every star in the sky were the dim tears of an angel’s cries… the thought that another young soul would lose their only chance to live a full and complete life, to experience adulthood and parenthood and grandparenthood…
All taken away by madness. All tossed aside because a gunman made an unthinkable, unconscionable, horrifying decision. And then, after that decision was made… then came the actions. Someone who chose to enter an elementary school, someone armed with assault weapons and a Kevlar body armor vest. Someone who fought his way past police. Someone who slaughtered innocents.
I keep thinking about those stars in the sky. How many times, as a child, did I look out the window of our mobile home, wondering if those stars were the tears of angels, crying over the children who could not defend themselves against the abusers and the bullies and the tyrants.
And the abusers and the bullies and the tyrants used all the excuses in the world. I was drunk and didn’t realize what I had done. I was overtired and I just wanted the kid to shut the hell up. This was how I was brought up and I turned out okay. The kid just needs some tough love. I forgot to take my medicine and I wasn’t myself. I watched Tucker Carlson too many times.
And even after all that… it might be too late. Even if someone is able to survive the horrible beatings and assaults and violations… their lives are never the same. Their souls are damaged. Their hearts are wrecked. It’s as if they survived a mortar blast. Post-traumatic stress disorder without ever having to enlist. Familial conscription.
And the angels cried from heaven.
I know these names. Lisa Steinberg. Xstacy Garcia. Kali Ann Poulton. Todd Preville, Jr. Tami Lynne Tinning and her brothers and sisters. David Smith and Alexander Smith. And now Kenneth White. And a family in Cairns, Australia. And more than a hundred schoolchildren in Pakistan. And now, nearly two dozen grade schoolers and a teacher in Uvalde, Texas.
I know the names. I shouldn’t know the names. I shouldn’t know them for anything other than being children whose lives were cut short in madness. Families torn apart. Little white caskets at a hastily-arranged memorial service.
And the angels cried from heaven.
There were nights, when I was a child, that I wondered if the angels saw the abuse I went through and asked God to intervene. Or maybe God was busy trying to intervene for someone whose was in more danger. I don’t know. I gave up on trying to figure out God’s motives. They make no sense to me. They never will.
Last night, I did what many people around the Capital District did. We lit a candle in the window. We turned on a porch light and let it glow all evening. We will do it again all weekend, in memory of young boys an girls who never got a chance to experience another Christmas, or another day of kindergarten, or another sunrise or another snowfall or another birthday or another rainy day or another day.
And we hope that someone out there will get the message that this has to stop. Right now. We end the excuses now. We find help. We offer support. We put aside judgment and offer assistance. We don’t treat Child Protective Services as some sort of monster that comes and rips children away from families for the tiniest of reasons. We don’t treat support groups as some sort of admission of awful parenting. We look towards protecting children, rather than perfecting cover stories of what happened to children. We pass sensible gun control laws. Private citizens don’t need to own AR-15’s and bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.
I don’t want another candlelight vigil.
Because another candlelight vigil means that another young soul was taken to Glory.
And another candlelight vigil means that the angels are crying once more.
And the fact that I’ve repurposed a blog post from eight years ago to represent the horrifying infanticide that took place in Texas … it just means that nothing has changed in all that time.