Tragedy. This is what is being said about the latest school shooting. Even writing “the latest” gives me pause. It suggests there will be another. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida want to be the last. As a parent, I’m afraid they won’t be.

When Columbine happened, the country was in shock. Lately, there has been much discussion about the country becoming numb to these horrific events. For me, this one became more personal.

I was sitting in a doctor’s office with my daughter, reading People magazine while we waited. There was an article on the shooting and in it, there are pictures of the victims with a couple of sentences about them. Yes, I shed tears as I read each one and then I read these words:

“The freshman color-guard member and talented artist…”

I couldn’t read further. I couldn’t breathe. Tears started running down my face. That description could be my daughter. Exactly my daughter. Except it wasn’t. It was a description of Gina Montalto, 14 years old. Her picture shows a smiling young woman, full of promise. It’s one thing to “know” it can happen anywhere. It’s another thing to feel it to the core of your being.

My daughter asked me a question and caught me crying. I showed her the article. She gave me that look that says “You’ll cry at anything.” I read her the description of Gina. Eyes wide, she understood.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I found myself crying for a young woman I never met and a family I don’t know. Because sleeping soundly in the next room is my freshman color-guard member and talented artist.

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