Last week I took a break from watching the devastating coverage of the Uvalde, Tex., school massacre. I have family there and I watched as long as I could. But a day came when it started to feel morbid and even voyeuristic, not like bearing witness. So I stopped. I bought some Kate O’Brien novels I’d been longing to read. And I reread my Kindle version of The Body Keeps The Score.
This week, I’m not sure why, I returned to Uvalde. Yes, it started with Matthew McConaughey’s White House briefing. I was prepared to mock him, but it devastated me. I don’t know the man, but he genuinely sounded distraught. Those green sneakers. He made those children come alive again. I’m not sure what he adds to the gun safety debate—as in, can he move Republicans?—but at least he tried.
But it was the House Oversight Committee hearing on the Uvalde and Buffalo murders that made me unable to sleep tonight. The utterly flat affect of 11-year-old Uvalde survivor Miah Carillo, describing the way the alleged shooter said “Good night” to her beloved teacher as he shot her. Maybe that’s how some mentally ill people perceive death—just going to sleep? What will “Good night” mean to Miah for the rest of her life? After her testimony, Miah’s father sobbed that he’d lost his fun-loving daughter and didn’t expect to get her back. Prayers for both of them.
Most disturbing was the testimony of Uvalde pediatrician Dr. Roy Guerrero. He’d treated the victims for all sorts of childhood maladies; Miah for serious liver issues. He never expected his hardest job yet. “Those mothers’ cries, I will never get out of my head,” Guerrero told the committee, adding: “I know I’ll never forget what I saw that day.”
He saw one thing that I won’t forget either: two children “pulverized” and “decapitated” by these devastating weapons zero people should be able to own. In my experience, the mind won’t let you process the “decapitated by bullets” remark without doing a bit of visual work. I did it. So I can’t sleep.
“Innocent children all over the country today are dead because laws and policy allows people to buy weapons before they’re legally old enough to even buy a pack of beer,” Dr. Guerrero said. “They’re dead because restrictions have been allowed to lapse.”
There’s a debate over whether the grieving parents of those shattered children should make one more sacrifice and show the country the autopsy photos of the carnage they once called their baby. I have no side here. Mamie Till Mobley opened the casket on her baby Emmett, so Americans could see what white supremacists had done to him. I understand why Sandy Hook parents chose differently. I would never urge a Uvalde or Buffalo family victim to do that, but if they chose to, I would certainly understand.
But it may not be necessary. Dr. Guerrero delivered the details that are keeping me from sleeping. I pray he can sleep again soon.