Light for a Life
My husband and I attended a vigil for the victims of the Uvalde shooting just two days after it happened. I’d spent the prior 48 hours moving between tears and numbness. Having lived in the United States since birth and dealing with the reality of mass shootings since Columbine, this one shook me more than the others. I truly hate that I just wrote the word “others”.
At this point in our lives, my husband and I are hoping to have kids. God willing, I’ll become a Mom soon. It’s terrifying to think about bringing a baby into this world, into this country, knowing they may be murdered at school one day. The day it happened, I called my mom desperately hoping she’d have an answer to the question stuck in my throat.
“How are we supposed to bring a baby into the world, Mom? How am I supposed to just let them go to school in America? How are we supposed to protect them in a country more concerned about guns than their life?”
She didn’t have that answer. I don’t have that answer. I’m not sure who does. In the days that followed the shooting, I read an interview with a Uvalde Mom whose child is a survivor of that horrible day.
“I don’t want my child to go to school in America anymore,” she said.
“Neither do I”, I thought.
We entered our church in silence the night of the vigil. Our Pastors had laid out a candle for each person killed in the Uvalde shooting and those in the shooting in New York. They lit each candle as the pianist played. The clicking of the lighter seemed incessant. I could hear sniffles all around me as I watched each flame come to life. Then, they began reading the names of each victim killed in Uvalde.
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10
Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, 9
Eva Mireles, 44
Jackie Cazares, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Jayce Luevanos, 10
Jose Flores, 10
Layla Salazar, 10
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Miranda Mathis, 11
Rojelio Torres, 10
Tess Marie Mata
Uziyah Garcia, 10
Xavier Lopez, 10
At the very end, one more name came across the screen: Salvador Ramos, 18. For a moment, I was shocked. Were we really going to hold that name up in prayer, I wondered? Yes, yes we were. They were all children of God who had been taken too soon. We prayed for the families of the victims, torn away from their loved ones, left to wonder why this happened. We prayed for the Ramos family, as their life had dramatically changed in what would likely be a tortured way.
Tears flowed throughout a moment of silence. Mine would be the final voice to be heard that night. I gathered myself, wiped away my tears, and tried to steady my voice as much as I could. With one small light to aid my eyes, I read…
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
As soon as I was done, I walked back to my husband, took his hand, and stared down at the words I had just read. There was so much anger and fear in my heart, so much frustration, and a total sense of helplessness. Those candles still burned in front of me as I continued to read those words. I so desperately wanted to cast the word “enemy” on the shooter and believe he had won that day. In reality, there was no victory. No single person won that day. It was marked by loss, suffering, pain, and tragedy.
I had to assume Salvador Ramos was experiencing immense pain, purchased a gun, and unleashed his pain on the world. There was no victory, no “foe” rejoicing as we all fell. There was only sorrow, pain, and death; only questions that will never be answered.
In the days that followed, sorrow has turned to anger. Those little lives have been laid to rest, families of the victims have testified to Congress, and the United States begins, yet again, to talk of gun reform. It’s the same circle we’ve been in before. I’m tired of it.
This week, I’ll be attending a meeting with my local chapter of Mom’s Demand to learn how I can take action in my own community. I may not have a direct influence on legislation, but I can do something in my community. So can you.
In the meantime, I’ll be lifting up those names and those families. May they find peace. May they find endless support. May they find a way to keep living.