Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Simon’s Rock-School of Bard, and now Parkland, FL. All school shootings in the US that have occurred in my lifetime. I will admit that until November 17th they were just tragic events and I went on with my everyday life once the media stopped flashing them all over the screen.

The shooting in Parkland, FL affected me like no other. In a visceral way I feel for the parents of those 14 murdered students, 3 staff members the 5 in critical condition. There lives will never be the same ever again. The parents of the 17 people that lost their lives have now become members of the Crappiest Club that no one ever wanted membership in. We are like the mean girls group in High School. There is special criteria to join, (the death of your child, regardless of their age) and a secret handshake (ours is the look of grief and the pain in our hearts). None of us want to be part of this group, we wish our membership could be revoked. That we would never have to wear the pain in our hearts and the fake masks on our faces for the rest of the world to make us seem like we are coping well. Wearing pink on Wednesday’s would be so much easier!

Although I don’t know the families of these 17 personally, I don’t know any of their names. I know what they are going through, the shock, the disbelief, the bargaining with a higher power to change what happened. The realization that now you have to plan a funeral for your child. Something you are ill-prepared for in your numbness and grief. I feel the pain that the families of the 5 in critical condition are enduring. The not knowing what the future holds, the panic every time your phone rings,or the doctor enters the waiting room to talk.

I have walked both sides of that line, I don’t like either side. It is terrifying and painful, you can’t imagine you have that many tears in your body to shed. But I can assure you, once the shock,and numbness wears off and you are left with your overwhelming grief. You will have more tears to shed. Find a way to channel your pain,write, talk to others, talk to their friends, paint, sing, whatever lets it out, but don’t bottle that pain up so you explode like a half drank bottle of Prosecco. You will find your true friends, the ones that pick you up, send you little treats in the mail, take you out to breakfast or lunch. Trust me, they may not be the ones you expected, but hold onto them like a life raft, because they care and they will walk this long, pot hole strewn road with you.

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