Last time I visited home, I recorded my mom teaching her 11th grade English class. I don't know why. Maybe I just wanted to take a piece of her home with me. Or, maybe I thought that it would be the last time I'd see her, a high school teacher for nearly 40 years, in her element. After all, I'm getting older and taking trips home less frequently. And she's getting older, too.
My mom was the first person I called today after finding out that a mass shooting had occurred in an elementary school in Connecticut. Preliminary reports indicated that the carnage was unbelievable - unprecedented for a tragedy of this nature in this country. But I didn't need to hear the numbers. I just needed to hear my mom's voice.
I heard her reaction, pictured her face, as she took in the news. We silently cried.
While I don't know how the shooter obtained the gun or why he decided to kill so many people, I do know that tragedies of this scale mar this country from coast to coast. From quiet, small towns in Connecticut to mosques in Wisconsin to inner-city street corners, they happen all too often. And whenever - and wherever - they happen, all of us hurt.
That it happened this time to so many children is perhaps why I felt compelled to call my mother. She knew me as a child - loved me, cared for me and protected me before I knew how to myself. She knows my vulnerability better than I do. Today, I needed her to protect me.
The children who died today didn't know, never had to think, about gun control or the Second Amendment or semi-automatic assault rifles or Republicans or Democrats or death or tragedy or loss. But before we point fingers and try to blame someone else for their deaths, let's ask ourselves some questions. How many of us - journalists, politicians, our Facebook friends - were thinking about (or fighting for) gun control today before this tragedy happened? How many of us were furiously calling our representatives to ask them to do more to prevent this kind of tragedy? And how many of us will call again in the next week, the next month, the next three months?
Shame on us for not doing more to protect these innocent lives.