Yesterday when I saw that Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, TN was trending on Twitter, my heart pounded. That sick feeling of anxiety settled in my stomach. We know what it means when a school is trending on Twitter. We're not new. We're Americans.
It would be hours before I knew that it wasn't another Parkland. That one student died, and that student was a shooter. In America, we have to be relieved when this doesn't end with the bodies of a dozen or more slaughtered school children on the floor of one of our schools.
I couldn't help but think, once again, about all the school shootings that didn't happen because of Covid. This wasn't the first time I've thought about this.
I've been thinking about Sliding Doors since NY Pause, March 2020. Of course, today, we live in a culture that automatically "gets" the idea of a multiverse and of different time lines. We might say something like:
"Meanwhile, on Earth 2"
I'm a big Marvel and DC nerd myself, so I am always peppering my conversations with things like that.
But, back in the day, before The Avengers broke box office records and The Flash was on the CW, we had Gwyneth Paltrow and the movie Sliding Doors.
If you haven't seen it, look it up. Its main premise is two timelines. The first where Paltrow catches a train. The second where she doesn't.
Whichever pop culture touchstone you want to use as a frame of reference, it is inescapable that Covid changed destinies. We know about those who tragically passed from Covid. They would still live right now. We hear about them on the news. Some of their stories really sear into us, others maybe we mercifully forget the next day. A privilege their families don't have.
Cumulatively though, their deaths weigh on us. If we spend too much time with each life lost, we might go mad with sadness.
I've been through all of that just like everyone else has. I feel that. But I also often think about the people who live now, who would have died in the alternate time line. One where Covid never existed.
How many people are alive right now, who would have perished in car accidents commuting to their still-open offices without Covid? Rushing to events that didn't close down?
How many love affairs, great loves, never happened because shutdowns kept the destined meeting from occurring in the Covid time line?
OTOH how many divorces didn't happen because a cheating spouse, now stuck in the home and unable to cheat, wasn't caught?
So many questions, so many destinies changed.
But the most haunting of all: How many school children didn't die because they weren't in the classroom to be shot?
And how many will die now that "normalcy" is returning?
I don't know how my life would be different without Covid. I know my business would be much healthier.
But I might be dead. No one knows what the alternate time line had planned for them. And that's how it should be. It's the natural order of things for us to not know the future, and to ponder the road not traveled.
But dead school children is not the natural order.
There's nothing natural about it.
There's nothing normal about it.
This is not the normal I want to return to.
I know Republican mothers and fathers are just as tormented as anyone else over the fear their child will be next. Their child won't come home.
Yet, they live in a cognitive dissonance that allows them to decry guns and school shootings but still vote for these disgusting, filthy, piece of shit politicians who are owned, lock, stock, and little cock, by the NRA and other gun interests. By the GOP which IS a gun interest. By the American gun culture.
Until those parents wake up from their stupors, we won't have change and going back to normal will mean, in America, dead school children.
The best we can hope for is there is never another Sandy Hook.
But that's just a hope. We can put that in our hope chests with the thoughts and prayers of the American Slime who keep guns in the hands of anyone who wants one.