In The Midst of Mourning I Hold My Kids Tightly

by Katy on May 25, 2022 · 19 comments

I wrote this blog post after the Sandy Hook school shooting. I’ve decided that I will repost it after every school shooting in the United States. I hope to never publish it again, but I know I will.

It’s been a difficult three days for America, as we’ve gone from shock to deep mourning for the murdered children and staff of Sandy Hook elementary school. And however you feel about the growing debate surrounding gun control, one consensus has come out of this tragedy, which is to hold your kids tightly.

Appreciate the gift of life that is more fleeting that we can bear to admit.

So when I woke up yesterday to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a mountain of laundry to put away and living room full of cat hair choked furniture, I asked my son if he wanted to go on a day of downtown adventures. (My daughter was sleeping, and my gift to her was to let her continue with her favorite hobby as long as she wanted. After I kissed her a couple dozen times, of course.)

The chores could wait.

We chose to take public transportation, as we both have free passes, plus it frees us from the shackles of having to stay close to our parked car. We stopped first at the local Einstein’s Bagels to get a free pumpkin latte to share, as well as a toasted and buttered jalapeño bagel for my son, which we did not.

We stood in the rain and waited for the bus, and talked about nothing and everything and passed the overly sweet latte between the two of us. And I ached for all the Connecticut parents who had these future moments stolen from them.

No shepherding a child into adulthood, no shared coffee drinks, no worries about high school grades that will determine college opportunities.

My son and I wolfed down food cart falafel in the rain, browsed expensive European soccer magazines (him) and decor books (me) at Powell’s bookstore; ogled the couches at West Elm and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (me) and hunted through the clothing at Buffalo Exchange (him.)

We made a joint decision to check out the westside Goodwill and hailed another bus for the short yet uphill and wet journey. I picked up a few small things for my sister’s birthday and my son lamented that all the new looking Vans shoes were either too small or bizarrely overpriced.

The bus ride home ended with a long and chatty walk that included a detour through the holiday lighting of Peacock Lane and free slices of cake from a Walgreen’s grand opening. We were both good and tired by the time we staggered home, although I did load the dishwasher enough to run a single load. Our evening consisting of a couple of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (me) and the newest Saturday Night Live (him.)

No laundry, no chores, just me staring at my son and holding him tightly.

And when my daughter needed me to drive her far across town for a poker game, I did not whine about it. Even when she needed to picked up at 11:30 P.M.

For today I have these kids, and I will hold them tightly.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

janine May 25, 2022 at 4:16 pm

A beautiful post in response to a horrific event..
Amen, Sister


Coral Clarke May 25, 2022 at 5:19 pm

Living in Australia,with virtually no school security (because we aren’t having children shot, we don’t feel a need for it) we are happy with our strict gun laws.I know many Americans feel that the reason the US has so many children killed( compared to countries with similar social issues) is that the US has a higher percentage of mentally unstable people. Wouldn’t this suggest that stricter gun laws were more, not less, necessary?


Tiff May 26, 2022 at 7:47 pm

Well yes..that’s what most of us sane people feel here but the NRA has more $$ than most of us make combined…


Roberta May 27, 2022 at 1:30 pm

I have read that something like 85% of Americans believe in some degree of gun control. But the other 15% have the money to make commercials and buy Congressmen.

3/4 of the students at my husband’s school left campus today because someone sent a vague text message that was misinterpreted as a threat. And I received a text from my husband saying there may be a threat to campus, and he loves me.

I should not be afraid of learning that my husband, a high school teacher, has been shot. This should not be a high risk career.


Merv May 25, 2022 at 6:47 pm

I hope you don’t need to publish this again but I fear you will. In a week we will be discussing something else. We are lazy and we need to do the hard work to correct this. I just don’t get it. Who can be against stopping this?


CINDY BRICK May 25, 2022 at 7:29 pm
Jenny May 26, 2022 at 1:50 am

Thank you, thank you. It is unbelievable to me that there is any debate or uncertainty about what needs to change.


Joanne May 26, 2022 at 4:18 am

Thank you for sharing, I wasn’t following you at the time of Sandy Hook and I echo your sentiment that you should never have had to post it again.
I’m in England and our gun laws are very different to those in the US and I struggle to understand how anyone is able to buy such weapons and this right seems to be supported by some of your fellow citizens.
Our Dunblane school shooting back in 1996 was horrific and we still feel a collective pain at the lives lost then.
From here I can only say how sorry I am at the loss of life and hope that a solution can be found, although I know not what.
Much love xx


Ruby May 26, 2022 at 5:50 am

Thank you, Katy.

If only those who influence gun laws in our country loved other people’s children as much as they love their guns. 🙁


Janice Riggs May 26, 2022 at 7:36 am

Beautiful. I hope I never read it again…


Christine May 26, 2022 at 10:23 am

Guns are now more important than children and innocent citizens in our beloved country. It’s no secret that the gun lobbyists have many of the GOP congresspeople in their grip due to donations from their bottomless pockets. They don’t even bother to vote for what their constituents want, the majority of them being pro tighter gun laws. It’s all about the cash, folks. This is a fact we must accept as we await the next horrific massacre.


Lindsey May 26, 2022 at 10:46 am

I can’t help but think that things would change with lightning speed if one of these shootings occurred at a school attended by the children or grandchildren of some of the members of Congress.

A lovely tribute, Katy.


Vickey May 28, 2022 at 10:21 am

If only we could count on their empathy, rather than their eventual, inevitable personal loss as the catalyst for the desperately needed change.


Catherine May 26, 2022 at 12:23 pm

I am in France and as Joanne from England our gun laws are too very different to those in the US . Know that the French are horrified by these mass massacres which take place so often in the USA. We are still bruised by the terrorist attacks that have taken place on our soil in recent years. Fighting terrorism is difficult and risky but facing these crimes of children is horrible! Especially since they are possible because of the American gun law and the powerful NRA. I sympathize and send all our moral support to the bereaved families and to the American people. Catherine.


susanna d May 26, 2022 at 2:16 pm

This post is so heartfelt and beautiful. It brought me to tears the first time I read it. It brought me to tears when it was reposted. As I read it again because a school shooting has happened yet again, it brings me to tears once more. And I’m feeling a lot of anger, too.

My grandchildren are the ages of some of the children who were murdered this week. Why is this allowed to keep happening? I’ll be finding constructive things to do with my anger. I will not remain silent about this, or accept excuses for inaction.

And I’ll be holding my grandchildren tightly. Thank you for the reminder, Katy.


Kayleigh May 26, 2022 at 6:53 pm

I have nothing profound to say, except I hate the way we treat children in this country. I’m grandmother age. I teach 2nd graders in nearby Arkansas. They came to school scared after watching the news. All I could do was hug them all day and tell them how much I love them and assure them I’d do my best to keep them safe. Lots of questions about Jesus and God and Heaven and if the Uvalde children are safe now. I’m truly scared and heartbroken that my 7 and 8 year kiddos are having conversations like this at school. It just isn’t right at all and I am powerless..


MB in MN May 27, 2022 at 8:44 am

Katy, thank you for this beautiful tribute. It brought tears to my eyes and a deepening sense of disgust at the inaction. The right to bear arms should not mean being able to buy assault weapons, being able to purchase a gun before the age of 21, having no background checks, having no universal red flag law, etc. I am horrified and sickened by Republicans’ shameful and indefensible stance on gun rights. At a minimum, we can and must: 1) enact sensible legislation, 2) address the underlying contributors to violence, and 3) limit lobbyist power over public policy.


Jen May 27, 2022 at 10:28 pm

Thanks for re-posting, Katy. I remember the first time you posted it and never could have imagined that it would happen again and again. 90% of Americans want gun laws those in our government have the NRA in their pockets. Thank you for reminding me to hug my kids, who are teens and young adults now. I am so sad that this is the America they live in.


Jen May 27, 2022 at 10:36 pm

On his 18th birthday he bought 2 rifles and 375# of ammunition. No one raised an eyebrow at this purchase. He couldn’t buy alcohol, but he could buy these items and commit this violence. An hour locked in that classroom, while parents were held down and not allowed to help their children. And the murdered teacher’s husband died of a massive heart attack 2 days after the shooting. This is the America we live in. So sad…..


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