We’ve been plunged into deep winter across most of the United States this February, with dire consequences.
Texas, where we once lived, is freezing, and its people endangered. Valentine’s Day, that romantic holiday, brings grief to so many survivors, and we felt that acutely a few weeks ago as we observed the third anniversary of the Parkland massacre.
But hope is also stirring. And for us, hope is wedded to action – positive action.
President Biden has a massive agenda. We are thrilled that moving gun legislation is high on it. After our daughter, Jessi, died, we were overcome – nearly flattened by grief. We were able to emerge by transferring our heartbreak into productive behavior.
We were ready and willing to seek help from all quarters, even then-Senator-elect Ted Cruz (R-TX). We invited him to share Thanksgiving dinner with us and sit in Jessi’s empty chair. That didn’t happen, but we did meet with him and pressed our views on sensible gun control. He gave us “thoughts and prayers,” but no positive action. In fact, gun legislation he introduced was more harmful than helpful. We, however, were undeterred.
Now we have a more substantial opening. We’re not looking to Senator Cruz (when Texas freezes over he runs for the border), but we are looking for allies who might now have the energy and opportunity to press ahead and make us all safer. We know there are good people of conscience and determination, and some, like President Biden and Congressman Jamie Raskin, who have suffered grievous loss and yet pressed on. We want to see pain become power, and loss lead to legacy.
We’re also continuing to address the emotional well-being of gun violence survivors through our first-of-its kind mindfulness program at University of California at San Diego. Once the participating survivors complete the initial eight-week training program, they are trained violence interrupters and will teach traumatized survivors of gun violence the tools to cope with their PTSD. (We continue to follow Brenda Mitchell, a student in the program, in this issue.) We are so glad that we can participate in, and help grow, activities that really do make a difference.
We can’t tell you March will come in like a lamb, but we’re wishing you all peace, love and spring before too long.
Sandy and Lonnie