In The Midst of Mourning I Hold My Sons Tightly

by Katy on February 15, 2018 · 38 comments

I wrote this blog post after the Sandy Hook school shooting. I repost it every school shootings 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 younger son if he wanted to go on a day of downtown adventures. (My older son was sleeping, and my gift to him was to let him continue with his favorite hobby as long as he wanted. After I kissed him 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 older son needed me to drive him far across town for a poker game, I did not whine about it. Even when he 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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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeline Kasian February 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm

My son is no longer a high school student.He doesn’t live at home. Yet I hold him closely as well. We still go for coffee, he comes to dinner and he and his Dad go shoot pool. He is just about my own family,in addition to my husband.I have no siblings, no more kids, no aunts or uncles alive no parents on this earth.

My grown son works on a college campus in a state where most of my girlfriends carry weapons in their pocketbooks. I am sure many of the students as well.

When is this going to stop??

Statistics show: less guns less murder.

Arizona could go first,with gun control.

AMerican,when are you going to get great again????


Karen February 15, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Yes. My kids are all grown up and managed to get through school with zero shootings. But the thought that my little granddaughter could suffer a shooting in the future just makes me sick. I’ve gotten involved with a local group here in the Bay Area to fight for country-wide gun control. Parents and grandparents must come together to do what congress will not do. Thoughts and prayers will never change things here, but action on our part, including voting, will. My heart goes out to our staggering number of gun victims and their families.


Maureen February 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Joyce February 15, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Sweet Jesus! How does this keep happening. Gun control, people! 45 can talk all he wants about mentally ill people but we have due process in this country and cannot lock up someone because they seem “strange”
How many f’ in guns do people need who needs an AK. These guns are not for hunting or target practice, they are made to kill people.
There is a special ring in hell for Mr. LaPierre and his ilk.


Kayleigh February 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm

You made me cry.


Norma February 15, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Why oh why can’t the idiots running this country see this.


Bee February 15, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Children are a gift, and they are our future. I never miss the chance to say, ” I love you,” to my children, husband, friends and family. Life is filled with unknowns.


One of God's February 15, 2018 at 6:51 pm

Would that more would hold your attitude. Until we change things so our world is no longer a hotbed of anger and hatred, there will be violence, no matter what the instrument.


Susan Robinson February 15, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Once again, I read these words with tears in my eyes. When will we learn? How many more precious lives will it take? I am sick to death of the phrase, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you”…..Bull!! We need to put actions in place of platitudes!! Katy, I hope you never post this again, but I WILL see it again…and again.


Jennifer February 15, 2018 at 3:09 pm

I selfishly turned off the news channel to shield my kids from what has happened. I have teared up several times today and lied to them about the reason why. Please don’t judge me, I will talk to them when I figure out the right things to say. I feel literal, visceral pain when I think about the agony that this has caused. My young daughter ran outside to the car to get something she forgot. I jumped out of my chair and ran to the door to make sure she made it ok. When I saw her little body running back from the car I breathed a sigh of relief. What I would give to be able to give that same breath to the parents of those that are gone.


Vickey February 15, 2018 at 8:56 pm

Jennifer, I can’t imagine anybody on here judging you for doing what you needed to do as a parent to care for yourself and your children. You know their and your needs best. {{{}}}

My only child is grown and lives in another state, but I, too, teared up today and had to turn the news off several times for my own equilibrium. Once you’ve been a parent, you realize just how searing the loss is for those whose children aren’t coming home.


nancy February 15, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Great post. As a librarian/educator I just have to shake my head and wonder when common sense will outweigh $$$? I told my teacher co-workers that the moment I had to wear a gun in a school was the moment I would resign. We are sadly one of the only developed countries in the world that has this many school shootings. No one seems to have the balls to do anything about it. I don’t think this is what our forefathers has in mind when they wrote the 2nd amendment, and the “mental illness” card will always be played. Maybe these people are just VIOLENT. Maybe we need to put the nation on notice that this is NOT ok. Kids need to feel safe in their schools and it shouldn’t have to be a fortress because gun industries just want to fill their accounts with more $$. As long as people line ther pockets with gun $$$ these will continue. Sometimes I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of us just sitting on our hands???


Mand01 February 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Australia committed to gun control after our worst mass shooting. Our legislators enacted to policy within I believe 14 days. Both sides committed to it and passed it. It has held up since 1996. We have not had a mass shooting since that time. It can be done if the political will is there.


Jenny February 15, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Excellent to hear this.


Norma February 18, 2018 at 6:49 pm

Oh if only the scumbags in the U.S. Congress would do this. No, they are more interested in being elected than the innocent children that didn’t come home from school that day or the parents who stood by wondering if their child was one of the fatalities or the parents who are burying their beautiful children. I am so ashamed of being an American right now. You got it right Australia. Good for you.


tia February 15, 2018 at 6:56 pm

In a country where most school buses don’t have seat belts I think it’s pretty easy to see school children’s lives are not valued. There is money being made, it’s a measure of control, and a mostly educated population has advantages.

I am amazed to see the modern face of evil though. A man child with dead eyes. So similar to the brothers who slaughtered their family in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, also the Sandy Hook shooter. I can easily spot someone who has an angry or mean expression, but a vacuous empty facade is a sign of danger? The walking dead are among us and taking their guns will certainly help but how do they get so damaged in the first place? How is our society churning out these monsters?


Mand01 February 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm

I can absolutely see how this young person became like this. He lost two sets of parents. He was expelled from school. Was he offered proper care and counseling after his losses? A proper community response? Mental health care?


Mand01 February 15, 2018 at 8:32 pm

And I’m not excusing his actions in any way. Just trying to understand how someone could end up like that.


Nancy February 15, 2018 at 9:15 pm

Mand01 – I was thinking the same thing.


momsav February 15, 2018 at 7:15 pm

My daughter teaches in northern Fl. Today, she was, more or less, threatened by a student. I am terribly frightened for her. (She has a witness.) My daughter has stated that this middle schooler could probably do her some harm. Plus, her father is a policeman. She’s been trying to find something else for work but has been unsuccessful.
There seems to be no sanctity for human life, anymore. I’m just so sad, today.


FrannyandDanny February 15, 2018 at 10:35 pm

It’s a sad, sad outcome. Very sensitively written.


susanna d February 16, 2018 at 6:49 am

I think of my son, daughter-in-law, and young grandchildren and wish I lived closer to them because I want to hug them and hold them tight. I hope desperately that they – and all other children and adults – never have to experience a mass shooting. I’ll do whatever I can through voting and getting more involved. Katy, I hope with every part of my being that you never have to publish this heartfelt post again but I too am afraid you will.


Cindy in the South I February 16, 2018 at 7:15 am

I deal with cases involving assault rifles all the time. They are generally bought on the black market, or stolen. They need to be illegal for anyone, other than military and police, having them, and the fines and time for possession by others should be stiff. This is not infringing on the 2nd Amendment. It is being common sense about it.


ouvickie February 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm

I totally agree!
No one, other than sanctioned military personnel, needs assault weapons. They are only made to kill people.
They used to be illegal in the U.S. for the general public to own. In the late 1970s I had a friend, whose husband collected guns. He bought an assault rifle for his collection, but he got stopped by police on his way home from purchasing it. It was broken down into components in the trunk of his car, but because he was transporting the entire set of components, they arrested him and charged him with possessing an “Assassination Kit”. Which was a Federal Crime back then. They gave him 10 years in the Pen, but he was paroled after 5 years with probation.

So what changed?
The gun laws. Collectors wanted to possess assault weapons and the NRA Lobbyists bought off enough lawmakers to get the laws changed.
So now, every time a law for gun control of assault weapons is introduced, the NRA makes certain the lawmakers they own get it knocked down.

The U.S. Government doesn’t care about the People – especially the women and children in this country – they only care about Power and Money. Period.
And the Lobbyists are just there to make certain the clients they represent get to call the shots on all the laws.
The U.S. is not a real democracy – we have become an Oligarchy.

I can truly understand why people homeschool their children these days. My daughter is grown, but I worry about my grandchildren. Each day students go to school, it’s like they are going inside a huge Gun Range and they are literally the sitting duck target of anyone who chooses to claim insanity as their defense.


Rosanne February 16, 2018 at 9:19 am

My heart is again broken. The Sandy Hook shooting hit me especially hard, since my only child was the same age as most of the children killed-babies really. I, too, think of all the wonderful moments I have with my son. The ‘right to bear arms” was written in a different age with a different society and different weapons. It is time to re-write the laws and assault weapons have no place in our country.


Susanne G February 16, 2018 at 12:38 pm

National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

You can contact the NRA via phone at:
NRA Member Programs

You can contact the NRA via email at:


Tiffany February 16, 2018 at 12:43 pm

It hurts when your 6 year old says “I know to hide in a cabinet or cupboard Mommy..” six-years-old..1st grade.. oldest was in 1st grade when Sandy Hook happened and he too was drilled on where to hide..

I do not even know where we begin but we must do something..


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life February 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm

It’s exhausting how scared we have to be for our children because our politicians are bought and paid for by the NRA. The kinds of weapons being used for these mass murders are not anywhere within the scope of what the 2nd Amendment could have imagined at the time of the Constitution, and it’s maddening to keep hearing that we can’t “politicize” shootings – it’s just code for “we don’t want to talk about any solutions because we want our guns.”


Joyce February 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Just read that only 30% of us own guns ( many of that 30% own a shit ton of them) why can’t the other 70% of our population do something.
I just sent a donation in to fight the gun lobby. We can all write in and we can vote.


Christine February 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Joyce, where did you mail the donation to? I never believed in lobbying but I’m starting to change my mind. GRRRrrrrrrr…


Joyce February 18, 2018 at 3:50 pm


Christine February 19, 2018 at 7:55 am

Thank you.


Christine February 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm

I have adult children now but fear terribly for my grandkids and friends’ children whom I am close to. When are the politicians going to stop being bought by the NRA? The greed in Washington is astounding.


kerry February 17, 2018 at 8:33 pm

Age is relative. Mine are basically grown with little ones of their own. Our lives are busy so I do hold them less often but make sure to hold them tighter and longer and forever say I love you when I see or talk to them. I can only make the very (VERY) best of the moments we have.


Gina in KY February 18, 2018 at 1:25 am

My youngest son is the exact same age as the Sandy Hook babies and I still feel a lump in my throat at the thought. I remember crying buckets just thinking of the parents’ grief. I remember reading your beautiful essay…more than once.

Sadly, I feel that if nothing was done after Sandy Hook and now 18 school shootings in less than two months of 2018, then when?

I just keep holding mine closer when I can.


VanessaKC February 18, 2018 at 7:32 pm

As nicely written as this piece is, I hope you won’t need to publish it again.


VanessaKC February 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm

I’ve since sent messages to my 2 state reps, congressman and mayor. Open to all other suggestions.


Christine Beelen February 19, 2018 at 10:40 am

As a Canadian, I have a very difficult time watching these horrible events repeating themselves. I cannot imagine the pain for these families and their relatives, friends, neighbours. I cannot imagine the frustration as politician after politician including your president sends care and concern but do not act to put some reasonable limitations on gun ownership. I am convinced the men who framed your constitution did not imagine a world where a 19 year old child could purchase an assault weapon and kill other children. Your second amendment called for a regulated militia and the freedom to bear arms as a protection — not to go out and kill mindlessly. I hope the young people who are mobilizing to bring sense to their lawmakers are successful. I wonder what your future will be if they are not.


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