NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just over four weeks removed from the deadly Covenant School shooting in Nashville, the emotions haven’t faded a bit.
“The initial grief of loss, I mean, we loved these people dearly,” Sarah Neumann said.
“This has been the darkest time of our life without a doubt,” Becky Hansen agreed. ”Grief doesn’t even begin to cut it.”
Neumann and Hansen each have two kids. Neumann’s pair are 2-year-old Judah and 5-year-old Noah. Hansen has 10-year-old Alex and 5-year-old Barrett. Noah and Barrett are in class together at Covenant.
“Judah literally wakes up every morning and the first words out of his mouth are, ‘Noah, Noah, see Noah!’” Neumann said. “That thought has gone through my head so many times: How would we do that if he didn’t get to see Noah?”
She recalled having to pick her elder son up from the reunification center the day of the shooting.
“I mean he just had a list of people that he wanted to go through to check if they were okay,” Neumann said. “You know, his favorite teachers and it’s a lot of them.”
For Hansen, it’s still sometimes hard to believe it even happened.
“Honestly, I’ve been in a lot of crisis management,” she said. “I’ve still been in shock a lot of the time, and when the grief comes, it hits, and it’s incredibly painful.”
That emotion has started turning to action. Tuesday, a cadre of Covenant parents met with Sen. Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun) to discuss gun reform.
Many of the parents come from conservative, Republican backgrounds, but they say this issue goes so much deeper than party lines.
“We have members in our parent group who are meeting who vote in both directions. We are meeting and reaching across the aisle,” Hansen said. “We’d encourage our legislators to do the same.”
The pair wanted to be cautious that the meeting wouldn’t become a photo-op for Lowe but did come away appreciative that he took the time to hear them out and feel their emotion. They said the dialogue started where they had common ground, as opposed to where they were different.
“We’re all Tennesseans,” Hansen said. “We’re parents, Senator Lowe is a father, I’m a mother. We love our children, we want our children to feel safe, we want our children to feel safe and protected.”
Lowe politely declined to comment on the story outside of a statement and a quick phone call.
“For two hours inside that room, we were just parents of kids,” he said.
It’s a delicate balance – on one hand, the Covenant parent group says it wants to preserve Second Amendment rights. But on the other, most agree something has to change, though they point out that those two don’t have to be separate.
Neumann said the last month has been like starting a marathon she never wanted to run.
“I don’t have a choice now,” she said. “It’s every morning we wake up and this is the reality that we’re in. We have to do something to make it better.”
Although the survivors’ guilt may never go away.
“I don’t take it lightly that our experience was far less grave than many others,” Neumann said. “Even many others with children still here.”