How do I explain someone killing 32 people, then himself to my children?
During American Idol, the killings were mentioned. There were ads for the following show that would be discussing it. Close your eyes, I said and muted the TV. Too late.
Why did he do that? Zachary asked.
He was mentally ill, I said. No one does that who is sane. He was crazy.
Why did someone give him a gun?
Why would someone sell him bullets?
Do I explain that the storeowner thought he looked like a “clean cut kid?”
Not every state has the same rules about guns, I explained.
Did he kill everyone at the college? Jake asked.
No, honey, he did not. He killed a lot of people, though. A lot of people who should not have died.
Why, Mom? Jake asked again.
I don’t know, I said.
The most frightening response- when Mom doesn’t know why something so terrible can happen. When Mom cannot make it safe.
After the show, Jake would not go to sleep.
I see evil, he cried to me. Shadow people with guns when I close my eyes.
I held him close. Still, he kept crying. I’m right here, I kept saying, rocking him.
No amount of American Idol will wash away the news report.
33 people dead on a college campus.
My baby cried all night and clung to me.
Shadow people with guns were everywhere.
And no amount of rocking and soothing will ever make it go away.