Six months after Nashville, a follow-up report
That social media will misinform—even before parents know if their children are safe.
That politicians will start calling the school to turn tragedy into messaging.
That broken-hearted strangers will, like grief smokejumpers, fly across the world to gather and mourn.
That a child can’t imagine setting foot on school grounds again, including the room where he hid with his teacher and classmates.
That he will watch you lock all the doors in the house and still can’t fall sleep without the lights on and someone in the room.
That he will have the same dreams as before, at least until someone in his dream pulls out a gun.
That public places—gas stations, grocery stores, museums, parks—will provoke anxiety, and he will always be aware of exits.
That his younger cousin will ask, “Daddy, how scared would you be if someone was chasing you with a gun, trying to kill you?”
That from now on he will know what it’s like to run in terror rather than joy.
That he will find stories without darkness and violence to be less believable.
That he will have memories tucked away just like the rest of us, but school safety drills will be invitations to remember.
That when you hug him, you will hold on a little too long, thinking of what happened and what he saw.
What didn’t I know about school shootings before Nashville? Almost everything—all the things he can’t forget.
Robert Erle Barham is Associate Professor of English at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA. He is the deputy editor of Current. You can read his first feature on the Nashville shooting here.
Photo credit: Adam Jones, Lidice Memorial to Child Victims of War (Czech Republic)