Before our Monday meeting at work this morning, a coworker and I exchanged pleasantries in the bathroom while we washed our hands. I asked her how her weekend was, and she asked about mine. As I looked up to answer, she remarked, “Oh, you look sad.” We could not elaborate, though, because just then someone else came in.
She was right, of course. How funny that she could see it with one glance. All those tears must have left a mark this weekend.
Our country awoke Sunday to news of a horrific shooting, another devastating act of hatred. Again, this happened. Yet another crazed zealot targeted innocents and destroyed the lives of so many. Again. My heart breaks—the country’s heart breaks. Many of the tears I shed this weekend were for people I don’t even know. The people in the club who died, the people in the club who didn’t die, the families of the killed and wounded, the people who work at or frequent the club, the people of Orlando, the entire LGBT community, our nation. How many times must this happen, how many lives must be torn apart, before we say enough? How many tears must be shed? How many mothers and fathers and siblings and friends and families must go through this? When will it end?
Many of the tears I cried this weekend were for the victims and families. I feel the collective sorrow. It runs through me and within me.
I feel a different sorrow, too. I mourn the third child we will never have.
It’s silly, isn’t it? I already have two beautiful children. They are smart, sweet, silly, and special. They fit just right in my arms—Jackson on the left and Gracie on the right. They fit just right in our house, too—one for each bedroom. But my heart could hold more. My heart could fit another baby, and then some.
We talked about the possibility of having another kid. Because Chad and I both have one defective copy of the FLVCR1 gene, each child we bear has a one-in-four chance of getting both defective copies. If the disorder weren’t so disabling we might take the chance. If it were just RP, for example, we might risk it. Blindness isn’t the worst disability. But with the sensory loss, the balance problems, the not feeling pain, AND the blindness? It’s too much. We can’t do that to another child. It wouldn’t be right.
Responsibility can be a heavy burden. Doing the right thing isn’t always fun or easy. In fact, it’s rarely either. It is heartbreaking for me to give up the thought of one more baby, to let that dream fade in my knowledge that it is the right thing to do. It is even harder for all the gun folks to give up their dreams of—I don’t know, really. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine what argument can be made to allow gun sales to skyrocket—not even to discuss controlling gun sales—when so many innocents are taken.
But I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter books. In his Great Hall speech at the end of Harry’s fourth year, Dumbledore discussed Cedric Diggory’s death with the students. Dumbledore, the wise, the great, the gentle genius, told the crowd, “We are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this hall have already suffered directly [because of gun violence]. Many of your families have been torn asunder. . . . Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of [a crazed murderer with an assault rifle]. Remember.”
We are in dark and difficult times. We must choose what is right. We must stop dreaming, look at the reality all around us, and bear the heavy burden of responsibility. We must do it for the sake of the innocents.