I started to write a column but deleted it. In fact, I’ve tried writing this a hundred times, but I keep erasing it. I start crying too hard.
Initially, I was going to write about the pediatrician, Roy Guerrero, who was born and raised in Uvalde, Texas. He attended Robb Elementary.
He was at lunch when the shooting happened. He rushed over to Uvalde Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of one of America’s most heartrending tragedies.
“It was a complete madhouse—what you see in disaster movies,” he said. “Doctors and nurses in every single room, people running around like maniacs, kids in the hallway bleeding and screaming, surgeons working on kids.”
In the hall he met a fourth-grade patient he’d been treating since infancy. The child saw the whole thing happen. She saw her teacher die. She told Guerrero she had rubbed blood on herself and played dead.
That’s as far as I got when I started weeping.
I couldn’t write anything more. This has never happened to me before. I’ve written about mass shootings before, but this one has been different.
So I took a break. I packed my laptop and drove to a public park, and tried to get my head right. Sunlight, that’s what I needed. I needed to get out of my stuffy office.
I sat on a bench. The park was busy. The exercise track was loaded with fitness enthusiasts wearing Lycra so tight you could count their ribs. The playground was overrun with children.
I saw a kid playing Superman, running around, playacting like he was flying, he used a red towel as a cape.
I opened my laptop and tried to write another column.
This time I was going to write about paramedics in Uvalde. I interviewed one of the EMTs by phone a few days ago. He had driven 85 miles to be on the scene that day. He asked if I had read Angel Garza’s story.
So I read about it. Angel Garza was a paramedic outside Robb Elementary, treating a 10-year-old girl who was, “covered in blood, head to toe.” The girl was completely hysterical. The girl told Angel that the gunman had shot and killed her best friend.
“What was your friend’s name?” Angel asked as he treated her battered body. The child said the friend’s name was Amerie.
Angel stopped. Amerie was his daughter. He had no idea his daughter was dead.
I broke down again. I closed my computer and bowed my head. I sobbed until my nose clogged.
When I dried my eyes, I watched Superman whiz around the park some more. He was wearing goggles, shorts, and red rubber rainboots. He was so happy.
I can vaguely remember being that happy long ago. I can remember the innocence of fourth grade. I remember lock-in parties in our gymnasium. Chuck E. Cheese Pizza. Roller skating. Cub Scouts. Childhood is precious, and it was stolen from 19 Texan children.
I told myself to pull it together. I thew open my laptop and began working on a new column about the Uvalde Community Center.
The community center staff is a group of unrecognized heroes. On the day of the disaster, they transformed a municipal center into a safe haven.
Only hours after the shooting, hundreds of families flooded the community center, waiting to learn whether their kids had been survivors or casualties.
As the day went on, as throngs were reconciled with their missing children, the crowd started to dwindle. Reunited families left with children in tow, caught in the convivial glow of relief.
Pretty soon, there were only a few parents remaining at the center. The lone parents looked around at each other. They began crying when they realized what this meant.
I lost my composure for a third and final time.
I closed my laptop, tucked it into my backpack and buried my face. I was weeping but good, too.
I suppose the biggest part of me wants to know why. The second biggest part of me wants to know how. My soul wants to know why God tolerates these kinds horrors on his earth. My brain wants to know why we do.
That’s when I heard voices around me. I looked up. It was the kid in his Superman cape. He was with his sister. They were pretend-flying near my bench, giggling.
Then I saw Superman stumble and fall. He faceplanted and skinned his knee. Superman was bleeding—although not badly.
His older sister rushed to him and tended the wound, stemming the flow with her bare hands.
“You’re okay,” she said reassuringly. “You’ll be alright. It’s not bad.”
He wept loudly.
It was a very strange experience, watching a miniature Superman skin his knee and cry. But I was privileged enough to see his sister hold the Man of Steel against her chest tightly.
“Sssshhh,” she told Superman. “It’s okay to cry.”
That little girl will never know how badly I needed to hear her say that today.
Tracy - June 1, 2022 4:03 pm
Sarah - June 1, 2022 4:58 pm
Thank you for taking the time to share these stories. And to answer one of your questions, I don’t think God tolerates these horrors on earth. He has made it clear how we should live. And love. But we don’t. This just shows how screwed up we are on earth and how much we need a savior. Thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus and for loving us. Help us to love others.
Patricia Gibson - June 1, 2022 4:04 pm
God bless all those families and children and everyone who helped 🙏❤️
Shirlea - June 1, 2022 4:08 pm
Thank you, Sean.
Keith - June 1, 2022 4:09 pm
I think that Superman’s sister is wise beyond her years. Thank you, Lord, for people like her.
Denise Walker - June 1, 2022 4:10 pm
My heart aches for the families of Uvalde. The senseless, unable-to-understand, sad and heart wrenching pictures of children and parents, children without parents, parents without children. It breaks my heart . Thank you , Sean, for your words and feelings. It IS okay to cry.
Suzanne - June 1, 2022 4:14 pm
Sometimes the only words we have are tears.
Colleen Reardon - June 1, 2022 4:18 pm
A difficult column for you to write, and for us to read. I don’t see finding a way to cope with what happened as the answer – heartbreak, anger, rage, and action to change things so it doesn’t keep happening is the response the rest of the world would like to see. As a Canadian I can only support our strict gun laws and support laws to stop guns from being smuggled into our country from the U.S. Tears are not enough.
Mary Craig - June 1, 2022 4:28 pm
I wondered why I didn’t see your column when I first checked my email this morning. Now I know why, and I completely understand. You bring hope to so many people. Please don’t let the bastards get you down.
Lander - June 1, 2022 4:32 pm
It’s so very disturbing. Two friends and colleagues have served a small church a few blocks from there, one years ago, the other serving now. What can any of us say to such madness and rage? What can we say to the ease of someone buying a military assault weapon – one that is designed for the purpose of quickly killing human beings? All I know to say is that hate and rage did not have the last word. It is love that did. Love is the word that led those two teachers to turn to protect their children. Love is what led several of the kids to protect one another as best they could. Love is what will be present to surround those grieving families, the larger community, and all of the people who have been hit so hard by this act of rage. Love won’t make it go away. But it is love that will offer whatever mending is possible – even as this will now be forever a part of these families and the community. Love may not be able to prevent such terrible acts, just as love can’t prevent abuse, or acts of hate, or self-inflicted wounds. But love fills in the places that rage has torn out, even as the jagged scars may be horrific. Love let’s us cry, and question, and hold our faces in our hands. And then, like that little girl holding her even littler brother, love holds us close and helps us take our next steps home.
Shelton A. - June 1, 2022 4:35 pm
God bless the children and families of Uvalde, TX.
Donna Brombacher - June 1, 2022 4:35 pm
Your feelings echo all those I have had since learning of this terrible tragedy. As a retired elementary school principal, I can imagine the scene and the probable emergency practices the school has had over the years. Yet, I cannot even begin to fathom what the teachers and children went through that day; then my focus shifts on those poor parents just waiting for news of their children and I, too, begin and continue to cry. God bless all of that community and I’m praying that He throws His loving arms around each and every one of them. RIP little ones and their teachers.
Christina - June 1, 2022 4:41 pm
Yes it is. May we never be numb of the pain and loss of the precious lives.
Donna - June 1, 2022 4:41 pm
My heart is broken for those innocent little children. And the two teachers, as well. I have been crying off and on over this horrible senseless act as well as the horrible senseless loss of lives in Buffalo. Evil is at work big time these days. I pray for all of the families that have been affected by the two events. AND I cry because the taking of lives is happening more and more.
Sharon - June 1, 2022 4:43 pm
Far more than 19 children had their childhoods taken away that day.
Christine - June 1, 2022 4:47 pm
Thank you Sean, we all feel devastated by this senseless act of violence and hate. It’s ok to cry.
Carol Vaughan - June 1, 2022 4:53 pm
Now I know why your column was late. I was searching for you. Thank you for pursuing your daily calling. You help start my day along with daily Bible devotions.
karlheeter - June 1, 2022 5:05 pm
Brings tears to my eyes as well. I thought that maybe you were going to put big sister in the position of God who might also have told you, “It’s going to be Okay, and it’s OK to cry.”
Rhonda Robertson - June 1, 2022 5:22 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your gut wrenching emotions. You are blessing so many lives through your writing.
M.A. - June 1, 2022 5:33 pm
Your words are getting me through these days. Thank you.
Eve - June 1, 2022 5:37 pm
I ask myself your same questions.I am unable to fathom the mystery of why life on earth is like it is .
Surely there is an afterlife that will make sense of all this agonizing tragedy. And all the others.
Beki - June 1, 2022 5:41 pm
This Sean. This. All the tears.
I’ve kinda been freaking out today wondering if I had somehow gotten off your daily email list as your regular email didn’t meet me this early am. Now I know we’re crying together. Signed, A Texas Voter who Will Not forget these feelings and these tears come November.
Susan Gaustad - June 1, 2022 5:43 pm
You have NO idea how much your post today eased my sorrow, Sean. The brutality of their deaths, the incredible lack of professionalism and character by the police has taken me to places where I’ve questioned if there is any hope for human beings. This is not where I usually reside in daily life. I was a teacher—high school kids—and I felt that my job was not a job, but rather a kind of sacred vocation. To have the opportunity to dwell with kids as they learn about the world and mostly life—is a dynamic, creative experience! Humbling for an “adult.” For quite awhile I’ve felt that the United States values power and money over children. A misguided notion. As you experienced at the playground, it’s the kids who teach US. They innately show us the way. Thank you so much.
Dso - June 1, 2022 5:53 pm
It was hard to drop off my granddaughters at their elementary school the next day. This Texas grandma weeps for the innocents and the ones left behind. May God help your heart as you continue to share the stories that won’t let us forget and lead us to action that will stop the horrific events that keep happening in our country. You words humanize this. We need to remember this happened to people with names and families just like our own.
Marianne Bryan - June 1, 2022 5:54 pm
It’s ok to cry. Only not ok to not cry♥️🙏🏻♥️
Penny - June 1, 2022 6:01 pm
Your words have caused me to sob and cry with you. Our questions continue about why God tolerates these evils, just as they have through the ages. His plans are higher than mine. Perhaps He is protecting them and their families from a worse trajedy. I don’t know God’s plan, but I do know Him. Thus, I pray for the families of those who are gone, those who now live with that memory, and those who have helped, protected and served these who are hurting. May God’s peace and comfort prevail.
Janet - June 1, 2022 6:02 pm
How can I comment when I’m crying too?
Alice Grimes - June 1, 2022 6:09 pm
A whole lot of us are asking God “Why?”.
Brenda - June 1, 2022 6:12 pm
Rest your tear laden head on Jamie’s shoulder. I know she will comfort you. So many tears needed in so many ways to help restore.
Sheri K - June 1, 2022 6:24 pm
Sean, I was concerned about you today! No Sean when I wake up is a bad omen! You’ve had a terribly emotional morning and my heart goes out to you. Trying to share these horrors has got to be so very hard. Thank you for the love and insight you share.
Tommy Artmann - June 1, 2022 6:26 pm
I think God is asking us, “Why?”
Karen - June 1, 2022 10:14 pm
I agree. Great statement!
🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - June 1, 2022 6:29 pm
Hi Sean, yes I wondered where you were today. Now I understand. As far away as here in Africa, we wonder why, why no controls on guns, why kill innocent people, especially children, where did it go wrong. I cried too, & in the Bible it says, Jesus wept. If He could cry, why not you or all of us. Praying for the lost & broken-hearted & the people of Uvalde.
Joy Jacobs - June 1, 2022 7:01 pm
Sean, we love you expressly for your feelings. I’ve read most of your books and of course your column and I know you wear your heart on your sleeve. I am sure God is also heartbroken over these things but mostly as a society we don’t care what God thinks. I’m very sad to think that this is the world my 15 year old granddaughter is inheriting.
🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den - June 1, 2022 7:11 pm
🇿🇦🇿🇦Norma Den again. My 18 year old granddaughter has been given a scholarship to study in Ohio. Coming from what is considered to be a violent country, I am fearful for her safety in the Land of the Free. Sad but a fact. She leaves for Ohio mid August, God protect her from insane lunatics please.
Pilgrim Jax Florida - June 1, 2022 7:18 pm
I wondered why today’s column was late to my email.
Now I know.
Thank you for opening your heart to us.
It helps me to look after my own heart. Sometimes what I see there isn’t so pretty.
Yet I know I can do better, so I refuse the darkness and turn to the Light.
Shirley Rose Glisson - June 1, 2022 7:49 pm
Another reason to cry, once upon a time that soulless person who shot and killed so many was once a small child, too.
Kevin - June 1, 2022 7:58 pm
Thank you, Sean, for your heart, and for how in generosity you share.
Livy - June 1, 2022 9:58 pm
Thank you Sean… putting words to all of our pain is courageous and healing. When your column was late today I suspected what you were going through.
Karen L - June 1, 2022 10:13 pm
The only thing I know is don’t blame God. He loves his children. He gives us free will. Someday we may know more. You could blame lobbyist and Congress and shooter whose name I refuse to use.Thats what I am doing.
Keep shining your light and making a difference.
Bettye - June 1, 2022 10:35 pm
Linda Moon - June 1, 2022 10:44 pm
I’m glad to read that you deleted your initial column today then wrote another one after you wept. We humans, and that includes real men, do cry. I wept with you, Sean, because of the death of Angel’s child.
Jayme - June 1, 2022 11:22 pm
I worry when I don’t wake up to an email from you. Now I understand the late edition. Thank you for always being able to say what the rest of us can’t. Hugs
Ruth Taylor - June 1, 2022 11:37 pm
Now we understand why Jesus wept.
Cindy - June 1, 2022 11:46 pm
I too, was alarmed not to find your column first thing this morning. Totally understand now.
Initially, the tears did not come for me nor did sleep that first night. The shooting in Uvalde was something my mind just couldn’t handle even though we’ve heard such horror before. I prayed most of the night in fear of how could my precious grandchildren and teacher daughter attend school the next day. Tried to remember where each door is located in each building and wondering if they would be secure. Now, every story I read, every news report brings tears. And they won’t stop. I’m several states away and actually never heard of Uvalde,Texas before last week and now it will forever be close in my heart. As a former teacher having lost a young student in a car accident, the grief and agony that followed for such a long time, cannot fathom a school and community losing 19 and two teachers at once. Nor has Sandy Hook been forgotten. I feel such deep overwhelming sadness that just won’t go away.
This blame game that’s all over the news makes me literally nauseous. Yes, in hindsight, mistakes were probably made. However, I have deep respect for the law enforcement and praying this horrible tragedy doesn’t result in community unrest when unity and love is needed most
Praying for God’s peace and comfort for all of Uvalde, Texas.
And thank you, Sean, for writing words that provide a sense of shared grief for all those hurting.
Anne Arthur - June 2, 2022 12:30 am
Written from your tender heart, and so many of us can relate. I have grandkids 4th grade age. Just the thought of such a horror makes my blood boil and my heart ache. Tears are the only response. Thanks for sharing.
Shirley Robin Ivie - June 2, 2022 2:56 am
Sean, all of your stories about the unthinkable horrific crime against those precious little ones in Uvalde, Tx. have moved me deeply. I believe we all know that there must be a change in our way of thinking, and to some extent in our gun laws, “common sense” ones or otherwise.Yes it is okay to cry, but it is NOT okay that our laws making it possible for an eighteen year old madman to slaughter innocent children, is the reason why! Keep on keeping on Sean of the South!
Debbie g - June 2, 2022 3:44 am
Our hearts are all bound together
Love you Sean and hugs and love to all
Michael and Sandra Lauer - June 2, 2022 10:46 am
What happened to the organizations set up to help children grow up to be caring and responsible adults, like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, YMCA, and Scouting. Are th ey still in existence? How strong are they? Is the problem lack of leadership?
Americans need to step up to the plate to save our children! Let’s spread the word.
Debbie Schmidt - June 2, 2022 11:56 am
God bless you.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
You always point us to the lights in the darkness. May we all strive to be the lights…the helpers…..the beauty and good you see in the world.
“This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.”
Gini Longarzo - June 2, 2022 5:08 pm
Got me again! 😢😢😢
Connie - June 2, 2022 7:36 pm
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
PMc - June 2, 2022 9:31 pm
Thank you Sean, I have not been able to watch any of the news without deep tears pouring out of my heart. I feel wounded in my heart for all of these victims and their families. If no one will take charge of the sale of the guns, then someone please stop the sale of bullets!!!
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - June 3, 2022 4:40 am
Heidi Thompson - June 4, 2022 4:35 pm
So very beautiful. Thank you.
Bonnie - June 4, 2022 5:47 pm
Sean, you have written what most hearts and minds are thinking and feeling at this time. The only question I would like to respond to, would be “why would God tolerate these kinds of horrors ”
I believe God is as heart broken as each and every parent of a child that died. They are His children as well. Anyone can point fingers at a multitude of humans for this act of violence. But I think perhaps it is America’s fault as a whole,for turning away from God. We have taken Him out of the schools, seemingly only praying to HIm now AFTER a tragedy. We use His name in vain on a daily basis. When I was growing up, we would be disciplined for doing so. His written morals are no longer adhered to. We think we know better than He does about right and wrong. I am not saying God allowed this in response to our turning away, I am saying, it is the predictable outcone of a Godless nation. I believe it is the consequence of a nation who was once protected because we honored God first, but now has flipped all that was right into the absolute opposite. We, are still fighting as a nation over the lives of unborn children.