Please note: I wrote this post as an initial response, only hours after the tragedy in Newtown, CT. At that time, the facts that were being reported were not entirely accurate. Since then, we have found out that there were 20 children killed, and six adults. We have also learned that the children were all six or seven year olds. Please excuse the innacuracies in my post. I didn’t go back and change it because I wanted it to remain my authentic reaction to the tragedy.
Only 24 hours ago, eighteen children went to bed, safe in their homes.
Tonight their beds are empty.
My brain does not possess the neurons to process the senseless massacre that took place today in Newtown, Connecticut, where a 20 year old gunman killed 27 people. Reportedly, eighteen of those killed were young humans, like my son, Jack.
This mass killing took place in my corner of the world, only a couple hours from my home. It is the closest one of these tragedies has come to me, logistically.
Earlier this week, I drafted a post about going to work angry, frustrated, and annoyed with Jack for having a tantrum and refusing to get ready on time to leave for school. My post was about being a mindful mom and choosing appropriate behavior management. I deleted this post. It just seems like folly.
I wonder how many of those children’s parents struggled with their kids on the way out the door this morning, not knowing that those would be their last moments with their children. I think about those parents kissing and hugging their little ones farewell for the day, not knowing that it would be farewell forever. The grief that I can only imagine is unfathomable. It makes me realize that no matter how mindful I try to be of my precious life with my priceless children, there is still so much that I take for granted.
As our nation and the world comes to grips with this tragedy, pictures and stories will emerge of who these children were, who their families are, and the voids that have been created in the lives of those who love them. These pictures will be difficult to see. These stories will be difficult to hear.
Please, I pray, do not look away. Please give these children’s lives meaning by bearing witness and feeling the grief and discomfort. It will be hard. It will hurt. I believe that it is important to feel this pain, and to realize that whatever we feel is merely a shadow of what their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends feel.
Less than 12 hours ago, there were eighteen radiant lives gracing our planet. I imagine these kids went to school this morning leaving behind pets, half eaten bowls of cereal, Christmas trees and letters to Santa. I have cried on and off all afternoon, thinking of all of the little details that make a life. I have cried thinking of how their rooms and beds still hold their sweet, musky little smells.
The resounding thought is, it could have been me; it could have been my children.
It could have been any of us.
I pray that the Universe will find a way to bring these young lives big meaning, that their sacrifice will not be in vain. I pray that the infinite Universe will hold the families and bring them comfort in every way possible. I pray that people will pay attention, will look at the images and realize that even thought they were total strangers, those were real lives that must be honored and respected. I pray that despite our rage at this horrible deed, we will be able to put thousands of times more love out into the world so that hate might someday come to pass.
Tonight there are eighteen families that will not have the blessing of putting their children to bed. I pray that this is something the rest of us never again take for granted.