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A mother’s whisper

In 2009 two women, Donna McNamee and Abigail Sicolo, lifted a 1,400kg car off of a little boy who was trapped underneath. Afterwards the women were shocked that they’d managed such a feat. But this is an old story, a story reenacted countless time through the centuries. Upon seeing a child’s life in jeopardy, mothers tap their inner Hercules and, in Donna and Abigail’s case, start throwing cars around.

With two young children of my own, I will long remember the Newtown Elementary school shooting. And as I sit in my living room, whispering to myself that this must never happen again, I know I’m not alone. I can hear the same whisper from every state, every town, every living room. And the whisper grows louder.

A woman pulls up to her child’s elementary school, feels her chest tighten, and for a moment does not want to open the car door releasing her child into the world and its looming uncertainty. Across the country, the mother feeding her baby puts down the spoon to wipe her eyes after having watched tiny coffins on TV with the sound turned off.

It’s not just mothers who feel this. It’s fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caretakers, and more. The feeling lingers with us all, sitting between our ribs, simmering.

Another week will pass, and then three. Those of us who didn’t know the victims of this crime will continue on with our lives. Gun sales will spike, and the NRA will come up with some carefully devised tactic for self-preservation.

In the silence following last week’s shootings we could feel the howl of mothers and fathers who had lost their babies. This howl resonates in each of us, transforming us, reminding us of our communal responsibility to protect every child from becoming a victim of violence. And to our children we say, “We won’t let this happen again. We promise you.”

There are over 85 million mothers in America, a group typically too occupied with taking care of everyone else to make their own noise. We are the quiet lioness scanning the horizon for strangers while our children dance like butterflies in the tall grass.

For now, we pace and wait, knowing the call will come for meaningful change in gun control. And when it does, we will answer with a deafening roar.

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