I have been crying since Friday. Yet another senseless shooting at a school. Yet another mark of shame for us Americans. Yet another cross for us to bear as a nation. Except this time, except this time, there were 20 children among the victims. Children! Innocent, sweet, beautiful, precious little children.
I cannot even imagine what the parents and families of those 20 dead children and 6 dead adults must be feeling. If I am this devastated, if I am plunged into such darkness, what depths of grief and suffering must they be wading through? None of them, I am sure, could have ever imagined that this was going to happen as they kissed their loved ones goodbye the morning of December 14th. It must have seemed like a normal day, 11 days before Christmas, the start of the weekend.
That morning, I got up and gave my little toddler the bowl of Cheerios she demanded, let her watch Caillou, and drove her to day care. She sang Chinese songs in the car, told me she didn’t want to go to “school,” and jabbered happily about passing cars and trucks and buses. At the day care, she clung to me a bit longer than usual, but then eventually gave me a kiss and went off with her teacher to listen to music. That night, when my husband brought her home, she burst into the living room and shouted, “Mom-my! Oh, Mommy! Where are you?” I snatched her up and clutched her into a deep hug for a very, very long time. I inhaled the precious scent of her hair – a mixture of wind and calendula – and put her soft cheek next to mine. She tolerated this for a minute, and then wriggled out of my grasp, giggling and laughing and asking to watch Caillou again.
I feel so sad for those parents who can never hold their children close again. Children who were born in 2005 and 2006, who still had their baby teeth! Children with such bright, beaming, cherubic faces, who will now never open their Christmas presents, or attend second grade, or graduate elementary school, middle school, or high school, or blow out the candles on another birthday cake, or go to college, or choose a profession, or get married, or have children and grandchildren of their own. The shooter did not just destroy 26 lives that day…he destroyed many, many more. The families of those children and those teachers and that principal will never be the same. With unspeakable violence, without a shred of mercy, he hurled those lives into an oblivion of unendurable pain. At least for now, and for the foreseeable future. With time, I pray, may come healing. Or at least a dulling of the pain.
I keep thinking about those kids he shot multiple times, and at close range, and wondering…were they scared? Did they know what was happening? It is that thought that breaks my heart and drives me to tears. The sight of a frightened child has always done that to me, eaten away at my very sanity. We are supposed to love children. We are supposed to be melted by their sweetness and beauty. We are supposed to cherish their innocence. We are supposed to want to protect them from all harm. It is programmed into our very DNA, or else we could never have survived as a human race. So what kind of human being could possibly be moved to hurt a child? I recoil from calling anyone a “monster,” but I cannot escape the fact that these deeds were monstrous.
Something broke inside me this weekend, something that remained intact throughout the Columbine shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the Aurora theater shooting. The only name I can give that “something” is faith in my fellow human beings. Now I don’t know anymore. If there are people out there who can hurt CHILDREN, who can shoot them as they cower and cry for their Mommies and Daddies, and these people can get access to guns and rifles, then what hope is there for our society? Maybe the world really is ending on December 21. And maybe we deserve it.
In the meantime, I can only pray. For the dead children, for all the victims, for all their families and friends and loved ones. I found a web site that listed all the ways to donate to the victims of Sandy Hook, and I did make a donation to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, in the hope that in some small way I can convey my love and caring to those who have lost so much. If you are open to it, I hope you will too.