This post is for my non-American friends.
Since I arrived in Europe last August, I’ve had to field questions about guns, gun control, and mass shootings as the lone representative of my country in whatever pub or public place I may be when the news breaks. I’m heartbroken to find myself in that role once again.
It’s mind-boggling to acknowledge there have been over 30 this year alone. Each time, I get to answer that, yes, I am a gun owner. After assuring you that I, and most people I know, oppose easy access to assault weapons, support background checks, and are responsible gun owners, I usually get to answer questions about how many guns I’ve owned.
I listen to your stories about whatever mass shooting it was that caused your country to finally ban guns. I nod my head as the outsider and express my relief that it worked. And internally I dismiss any possibility that it would work in my own country. But my political views are not what this post is about.
After my friendly interrogation is over, I go to my dark corner and grieve. I grieve for the murdered innocents. We say words like victims and the lost, but let’s call it for it is. It’s murder. And yes, I grieve.
I grieve for the families torn apart not only by the horror of the violence but for the grief of losing their loved ones. I know about the journey they have ahead. It hurts my heart. My heart aches to make it better for them, but I know that I can’t. I can’t do anything but watch helplessly as this scene is repeated over and over again.
I grieve for the lost innocence of those who witnessed it. Waking up screaming in the night with the visions you can’t get out of your head, images of death that haunt you as soon as you close your eyes, is something I remember well.
And I grieve for my country. As I travel Europe, I see where our forebears came from. They were innovators and change makers. They took risks to improve their lives and made incredible contributions to the world. I don’t know when this changed, but somewhere along the way, we’ve become apathetic and ineffective.
As your local American representative, I honestly don’t know how to fix it. I just know we can’t keep allowing this to happen. But tonight is my night to be broken and grieve. So if you see me out at the local pub enjoying the music, please don’t ask me about it. Raise a glass to those we’ve lost, and those who’ve lost them. And maybe, just for tonight, pretend I’m Canadian.
The Wandering Widow
Live now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.