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With less than one week until Christmas, I want to be writing about decorating the house, about baking my grandmother’s recipe for shortbread that she brought with her from Scotland. I want to be writing about how much fun we had at Hersheypark Friday night when we went to see Santa and his reindeer.
I want to be writing about those happy holiday things – but I can’t.
My heart is broken.
So instead, I need to write about what happened in Connecticut on Friday – as I (and all of us) struggle to make sense of it all.
Like most of you, when the news broke on Friday that there had been a shooting at an elementary school, my heart sank.
But as the day wore on, and the magnitude of the devastation became evident, I couldn’t contain my sadness. I found myself saying out loud the number of children that had been killed, along with the adults who tried so bravely to protect them.
My brain couldn’t wrap itself around it all.
I watched a later night news report, to get an update on what was happening, and I watched again on Saturday night. I watched a police press conference on Sunday morning – where the State Police Lieutenant cautioned reports about the amount of MIS-information being circulated. He also said there was not anything else new to report at that point.
I get it.
Reporters are trying to satisfy viewers and readers who want to know “Why” – who want to know “How.”
There’s no making sense of it.
With the shooter now dead, along with his mother, investigators have lost the ability to get first person accounting of what life was like in that house – which might give some clues as to the why.In the coming weeks, we’ll learn more about this 20-year-old … obviously troubled … who felt the need to take his anger (?), unhappiness (?) out on a group of innocent children.
In the coming weeks, there will be a renewed calls for tougher gun laws. Conservatives will say we don’t take away Constitutional rights for everyone because another person slaughtered innocents. The liberals will call for tougher laws.
I fall somewhere in the middle, I think, although I take those liberal views with a HUGE grain of salt, since many of those calling for tough laws are the same ones making the movies, video games and television shows that glorify excruciating violence.
I don’t believe we should outlaw gun ownership. But there needs to be some dialog about making it tougher to obtain guns, especially the kind of firepower used in this incident. The shooter’s mother had reportedly purchased the guns legally. Why did she feel it was necessary to have weapons used by soldiers? What danger was she protecting herself from in Connecticut?
The discussions should have taken place following Columbine, following Virginia Tech, following the movie theater shooting and last week’s shopping mall shooting.
There will be discussion about the need to increase security at schools. I’m not sure there is much that can be done to keep out someone so Hell-bent on murder.
But those discussions are just background noise at this point.
I reflect on the teachers and other adults in the school who did everything in their power to protect the children – several of them losing their lives in the process. And even when the “good guys” came, the surviving teachers still did what they were trained to do.
I was struck by the first grade teacher who hid her students in a closet. And because she was convinced they were going to die, told her students that she loved them. When I saw her on the news, she said she wanted that to be the last thing they heard – and to know that they were loved.
As I sit and watch Brannon playing cards at the kitchen table today with two of his best buds, my heart aches for the parents in Connecticut who won’t get to watch their children as they grow up.
And while there is never a “right” time for something like the Newtown shootings to take place, can there possibly be a worse time than the week before Christmas and during Hanukah? These were children who had excitedly decorated their Christmas trees, had lit the Menorah – were opening presents, baking with their families and getting ready for a visit from Santa.
Their parents had shopped for them, seeing in their minds’ eye the way their children’s faces would light up when they opened their dream gift.
I hope their faith is strong and that they find solace from family and friends – and perhaps from the rest of us who send our prayers of healing. I pray for the family of the shooter as well, for their loss and realization that evil lived so close to them.
It is NOT God’s will to take these children way before their time. So as we hear about the bravery of the children and their teachers, we prepare for the anguish of 27 funerals.
As a parent, I can’t pretend to really understand the pain. I can only imagine.
Because I have my sons to cuddle, and snuggle and tell that I love them.
But one thing I know is there are 27 angels in Heaven today – 20 little children and the seven adults who have gone along to continue to watch over them every day.