Oct 1st: A Year Later #vegasstrong

It’s raining today…which is fitting.  Rain can be a symbol of sadness, fear, but rain cleanses.  Rain revitalizes plants, it resets the earth and brings new life.  It washes away the dirt, grime, destruction.

One year ago at around 11:30pm, I was laying in bed trying to sleep.  I was pregnant, just beginning my second trimester, super uncomfortable and super sick.  I was laying there, staring at the ceiling fan growing more frustrated by the minute.  Mr. Man bursts in saying in a very urgent voice, “there’s a terrorist attack going on down on the Strip!”  Being a military family, we dread something like this happening, but we know all too well how easily and quickly it can occur.

At the time, we had absolutely no idea exactly what was going on.  The local news was reporting real time, it was chaos.  Our community social media pages were flooded with unconfirmed information.  We were messaging loved ones both close friends and family to not only let them know we were ok but to find out if they were ok.  Mr. Man’s phone was ringing off the hook all night long as he was checking in with his commander and various other individuals from the base.

It wasn’t until morning when we learned that it wasn’t a terrorist attack, but in fact a random shooter.  Details were still very fuzzy, and the death count was not confirmed.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a mother was explain to my children what had happened the morning after, and then send them to school.  Mr. Man and I were on the fence about telling them what had happened.  We were concerned that telling them, even with as little detail as possible, would scare them.  But we also wanted them to learn everything from us.  The last thing we wanted was for them to go to school and have it explained to them from fellow classmates who probably didn’t have the correct details.  We also didn’t want them to feel scared at school once they did learn the details.

The school year had only begun a little over a month, it was Yo’s first year.  He was a little kindergartener.

As I began to explain to the boys what had happened the night before, at least what I knew, I was struggling for the correct words that would not only explain adequately but also not scare them.  Telling them that there had been a shooting at a concert and that there were a lot of people injured and some of them had even died; well that pretty much wrenched my heart.  Watching their eyes grow big, Bean began to tear up.  I explained to them that we weren’t sure exactly who had been hurt, we didn’t know much about the shooter, and I also told them that they may have a classmate who had a family member that was at the concert.

Bean immediately began to panic.  He was extremely worried that someone was going to come to his school and shoot.  He was terrified to be anywhere where there were a lot of people.  It took him about 8 months to not only stop the anxiety over the situation; but also began to not immediately jump to the fear place that he was in danger whenever we went somewhere.  To this day he still refuses to go downtown, he will not go to any concerts or public activities with crowds.  We had toyed with attending a Piano Guys concert last January.  As soon as we told Bean we wanted to take him and his brothers he immediately broke down with an anxiety attack.

As the week unfurled and we began to recover as a city…it was extremely humbling to watch and participate in service.  People were giving left and right.  The blood banks had to start turning individuals away because their stock was in overabundance.  Others brought food, water, supplies to first responders.  Restaurants donated meals to people standing in line to donate blood.  Accounts were immediately set up for the individuals and their families who were injured or dead.  Hotels housed families of the victims for free.  The valley rallied quicker than I’d ever seen or experienced.  #vegasstrong signs and billboards went up almost as quickly, and they have stayed up.

Almost immediately after the shooting, I began to not only think about how I can help personally but also how I might make enough of a difference that a situation like this could be prevented.  I couldn’t help but feel helpless, how could I make a difference?  I am not someone who has great power, money or a voice that is easily heard.

As I poured my heart out to Mr. Man about my desire and how useless I felt, he said: “but you are doing so much.”  He then went on to explain that the way I teach my kids, the way we raise our children is how we can most significantly impact for good.  Thinking about what he said really spoke to my heart.

Teach your children to be kind.  This includes being polite.  Holding doors open for strangers.  Saying please and thank you.  Some might argue those are signs of weakness, but I think it is a sign of respect.  Not only that, but it teaches children to be compassionate and to think of someone other than themselves.

Teach your children that we all have flaws.  Bullying starts with being judgemental.  Picking others apart and trying to use that to make yourself feel better and to justify your actions and downfalls; that is how bullying begins.  Imagine how the world would be if we first tried to see the good in every single person before we picked them apart.  There would be less lonely teenagers.

Teach your children to be engaging.  Let’s be honest, social media, online presence, video gaming, these things are dominating the human race.  We spend so much time with our eyes down watching screens and interacting online instead of interacting face to face.

Teach your children to love with their hearts and not with their eyes.  Loving with our hearts instead of our eyes can eliminate hate, discrimination, loneliness, hate.

Life is hard enough without hurting each other, emotionally or physically.  Lifting each other up whenever we can, will go a long way at fixing this problem of hatred that seems to be more prominent as the years pass by.

We are #vegasstrong.  Not because we live here, not because we endured the horrible event a year ago, we are Vegas Strong because we strive to help others any way we can, just like the people in this valley did, without question, without needing recognition.  Are you Vegas Strong?


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