It's been one year.
One year since my son called to tell me there had been a shooting at the high school in town. In the blink of an eye, that sunny fall morning turned to tragedy and horror. Thousands of lives were changed forever.
One year since I realized that an act of violence can happen anywhere, to anyone. As parents, we spend our entire lives creating a secure, nurturing space for our kids. We think we've done it, but just like that, it can disappear. Sending my boys off to school, assuming they'll be safe and well, is a feeling of the past.
How are we faring one year later?
There is a polite truce between the Tulalip Tribes and the rest of town, but the division and uneasiness is palpable. The tribe has always been very private, and they have chosen to handle this situation in their own way. If we're ever going to heal and move on, both sides need to start being honest.
The lone survivor is still recovering at home, after undergoing several surgeries. Luckily he has managed to stay out of the spotlight, and I pray that he is healing quietly.
The father of the shooter is in jail, awaiting sentencing for possessing an illegal handgun, and allowing his son to have access. Sadly, too little too late.
Several months ago, the final report on the shooter and his potential motives was released by police. We didn't learn much. He was angry and upset about the usual teenage problems - a teammate on the football squad made him mad, he and his girlfriend were fighting. We will never know why he decided to leave this earth, and take his friends with him.
The cafeteria where the shooting took place is permanently closed. For now, the students eat lunch in the gym, but thanks to a grant from the state, a new building will be built.
A memorial walk around the high school is planned for this Saturday, and 10,000 red and white tulip bulbs will be planted by participants.
But really? Nothing has changed. Across the country, we're still having mass shootings. There is so much mental illness, and no one is stepping up to the plate to help. Our town has gone back to business as usual, because life goes on. Humans are resilient. But you see that uneasiness in the face of every parent, and most of the kids, if they're old enough to understand.
I still tense up every time I hear sirens. We talk often with our son and his friends about how they're doing. My heart breaks for all of them and I know the shooting is always in the back of their minds. Very slowly, we have all started to heal, but there's a long way to go. My son tells me that he refuses to live his life in fear. The world is scary, but he won't spend his time being scared.
I wish I could be as brave as him.
Reachout.com is an excellent website for parents and teens to find information and peer support on a wide range of issues.