There were seventeen names, called as a student walked a candle down the aisle for each person killed on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkdale, Florida. With tears coming down my face I saw my oldest son watch me from his pew in the front of the church to my pew in the middle. I knew he wanted to know if I was okay. I couldn’t bear to look at him because it was him that I was thinking of as I sat in the walkout prayer service at St. Anthony Catholic School in Washington, D.C.
I was happy to be there to share this moment with him. To pray together and show our activism together. But as a parent, my heart was bleeding for the lost lives of children. For all of the grieving parents who have been forced to bury their children due to senseless violence. I understand the need for answers. I understand the need for activism. I understand the need for a march or some sort of symbol of solidarity. I understand finding the strength to speak up when something isn’t right. I understand it all. And I’m right there with you.
With tears streaming and heart heavy, I recognized that these students were right there too. They got it. They understood. They prayed. They cried. And they reminded each other to “Be kind. Speak up. Help each other. School should be a safe place for us to come and learn. Let’s love each other and let’s pray for those who have lost family members. Let’s pray for the healing of the school and ask God to put His arms around the families and community in Parkdale, Florida.”
My soul was lifted as I heard the words of these young people. One 6th grader said he was going to pray for the shooter. He was going to ask God to forgive him and make his heart pure. Amen son. Amen.