For the Kids Whose Moms Were Killed by Gun Violence

Photo Courtesy of GoFundMe

Photo Courtesy of GoFundMe

This year has been utter shit for me. Not only have I gone through an ugly divorce, but I also lost nearly all my friends in the process. If I could tell you what happened to me at the end of our marriage that sent many people scrambling, your jaw would hit the ground. But I’ve learned that people don’t react the way you expect them to—not by a long shot. At the same time, I’ve found an inner strength that I hadn’t been able to tap into a long time. I can be one tough broad.

Some days, though, I’m a pile of wussy tears. Yesterday was one of those days. Not only had I been back to my rat-infested apartment five times to wrap up, but my new place was also filled to the brim with unpacked boxes. We moved farther away from my sons’ school, which is also nerve-wracking for me, as we were late every day when the school was in our backyard. To top everything off, I had to take my sons in early to meet with my older son’s teacher to discuss (just what in the f*ck are) partial quotients (and why are you guys doing it this way, you f*cking assholes?). I watched my son’s eyes glaze over as I furiously took notes, and I knew he’d have no idea how to do it once I wasn’t there helping him. School (and more specifically the scourge that is the common core bullshit) has been a struggle for him which, as a mom, is beyond heartbreaking. To top it all off, as I left him, he got teary-eyed and said, “Mom, I don’t want to go to Dad’s house.” Heart, meet dagger.

I called my parents’ house and my dad answered. Don’t get me wrong—my dad is one of the nicest, most giving people on the planet, but he’s not my mom. My mother can drive me nuts but she is my home base when I’m having a meltdown. She is my center. She is a touchstone for me when I’m spinning out of control, which is what I was doing yesterday. You remember in college when you’d call home and your dad would ask you when the last time you got an oil change was and then he’d hand the phone to your mom, right? Yeah, that. My dad sent me links to tutoring sites and called a gazillion times because he, like many men, is a fixer.

As I lamented this while cleaning off the last of my rat feces-covered items in my outdoor closet, I had a very cognizant thought about two young ladies. “You know who’d probably like to talk to their mom?” I thought. “Erica and Christina—the daughters of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who died in the Sandy Hook massacre.”

It got me to thinking about how many people probably ache for their moms right about now. So many people have been left without the ability to get that motherly hug, the quintessential kiss on the forehead, the knowing glance during a tough game, or even just that daily/nightly phone call to discuss the day’s gripes and nightly TV.

You know who’d probably love to see their mother? Crystal Holcombe’s two remaining kids. Three of them died with her in Sutherland Springs on Sunday. They’ll never have that mom to help with homework or first date jitters.

You know who’d like to see their mother? Anne Marie Murphy’s four kids. She was a teaching assistant at Sandy Hook Elementary School who died trying to protect sweet pea Dylan Hockley. “She surely went straight to heaven for that,” I’m sure many well-intentioned people told them. But what they want is their mom—they want to smell her, kiss her, and slide their hands into hers one last time.

You know who else would like to see their mother? Jenny Parks’ kids. Parks died while enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures—seeing a concert in Las Vegas. She left behind her high school sweetheart and two kids who will never get to ask their mom for their favorite dish on their birthdays. Parks also left behind a classroom of kindergarten kids whose parents surely had no idea how to tell them that their sweet teacher would never be coming back.

You know who else would like to see their mother? Lisa Romero’s kids. Lisa died in Las Vegas, too, leaving behind a daughter, two sons, and four grandchildren. The matriarch gone with the shot of a gun, and these people’s lives will never, ever be the same. The hole she left is surely gigantic.

You know who else would like to see their mother? Denise Burditos’s two children, whose mother was taken from them by a heartless man who took shots from a hotel window in Las Vegas. Burditos was about to become a grandmother again, too—one of the greatest joys any woman can experience. That child will be giving birth without the solace and comfort that only a mother can provide.

“It saddens me to say that I lost my wife of 32 years, a mother of two, soon to be grandmother of five this evening in the Las Vegas shooting,” Tony Burditos wrote after the shooting. “Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE.”

You know who else would like to see her mother? Francine Dulong, who lost her mother, Jocelyn Couture-Nowak, at Virginia Tech. Showing pride that only a daughter can, she told The Daily News of Halifax, “My mother was a very big opponent of guns; she really abhorred violence, especially with guns. I definitely could see her fighting to the end.” Imagine picturing your mother fighting ‘til the end. Would it give you comfort or be the source of night terrors?

You know who else would like to see their mother? Bennetta Betbadal’s three children. Betbadal had the courage to escape Islamic extremism and Christian persecution that followed the Iranian Revolution. She moved to New York at the age of 18. In the ultimate and cruelest of ironies, her life was taken by an Islamic extremist in the mass shooting in San Bernardino. Her children were 10, 12, and 15 years old—the most formative of years by nearly anyone’s standards. There would be no mother to help navigate the many trials and tribulations as well as to celebrate the strides children make during these years.

You know who else would like to see their mother? Brenda McCool’s 11 children—yes, 11 kids! One of her kids is alive today because she pushed her son and a friend out of the way when the shooting started at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida on the night of one of the deadliest mass shootings in history.

It’s not too soon to talk about sensible gun legislation and getting the NRA out of the pockets of our legislators. For these people and SO many more, it’s far too late. Do something. You aren’t as helpless as you think. Vote. Call your legislators and tell them that bump stocks shouldn’t even be around and that we need to be able to study the incredible surge of gun violence in our country. Join a group that fights gun violence.

And this article is not to say that fathers don’t play enormous parts in our lives, too, and far too many of them have died in this same manner. It’s just the thoughts of someone who was feeling sorry for herself and realized just how lucky she is to have her mother at the end of a phone line. I love you, Mom. I probably don’t say it enough.

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