I wrote this Brood less than a year ago. It was only last May when a teenager killed 19 children and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas while the “good guys with guns” cowered outside. I am reposting it today, 48 days after another shooting at Michigan State University (the last of the injured students was just discharged from the hospital today), and a week after the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.
A shooting at a Christian school in a conservative state belies everything I was once taught about the nature of these violent acts. You see, I was told that locked doors would stop the shootings. I was told armed school staff would stop the shootings. I was told prayer in schools would stop the shootings. I was even told that overturning Roe v. Wade would stop the shootings.
They haven’t stopped.
The rock I reference in this piece has been repainted: “Spartan Strong.”
April 20th, 1999, my boyfriend—the teacher—called me from his classroom.
I answered on the landline of my student apartment.
Turn on the TV, he said, something’s happened.
I turned on the giant CRT and saw a helicopter shot, a school in Colorado.
They had guns, he told me.
They were kids. Kids killing kids.
I can’t, I told him, turning away.
He told me, I have to.
December 14th, 2012, my husband—the teacher—called my cellphone.
I was in the parking lot of the school where he taught, and I taught, too.
They were kids, he said, little kids, six years old, and their teacher. She was trying to hide them.
No, I said, god, no. Our firstborn son was six years old.
I wore my school keys around my neck after that, to save time,
and a locket with photos of our two young children. School pictures.
Valentine’s Day, 2018, my husband texted from the parking lot of the high school.
I was at my desk, in the middle school. It was my free block.
Did you see?, he asked me. Another high school, this time.
Yes, I told him.
The story was already open before me, playing out on social media.
I closed the window and opened an email:
TWeiler @MAINTENANCE, Please repair broken crash bar, Room 239.
Last Tuesday, my husband—the teacher—came to me.
I am cooking dinner.
Again, he tells me, Texas.
I know, I tell him, I know.
(Six months ago, our seniors painted the rock by the football field, “OXFORD STRONG.”
I wondered, would they paint it over?
I wondered, how many coats?)
I stir the green beans, and our youngest asks, What happened?
She is six years old.
We are silent for a moment.
Nothing, we tell her, Nothing has happened.
And it is true, isn’t it?
Nothing has happened. Nothing has happened.
Nothing has ever happened.
Theresa Weiler is a writer, singer, speaker, seeker. She lives in the Detroit suburbs with her husband and four children. You can follow her on Twitter @Real_Theresa or on Instagram @realtheresaweiler.