Last night I mentioned that I would weigh in on the discussions surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy. I began a blog tonight on this subject, but I believe it is more valuable as an article for The American Complaint Department News. However, I am fortunate enough to know a blogger who has a blog about the shooting that doesn’t fit on her own blog. Her blog is called A Chunky Girl’s Guide to Food. This post doesn’t fit into her blog, but it fits perfectly into my realm of the blogosphere. Please enjoy my first guest blog post and check out her blog and her Facebook page.
Friday morning when I awoke, I had no idea that by midmorning/early afternoon I would be rocked to my core and would grieve for people, and children, that I’d never met or would ever have a chance of meeting. As I heard of the horrific news, my mind went where every parent’s mind goes in the wake of a tragedy, your own children. As I continued to receive updates throughout the afternoon, I sobbed and felt a wave of sickness rush over my body as each report increased the death toll. I text my husband expressing my disbelief at this senseless tragedy and how overcome and sick with grief I was. Throughout the day my phone, Twitter, and Facebook were flooded with the same shock I was feeling. The disbelief, anger, and the need to see/hug/hold/kiss our own children. Somewhere I saw a post someone had made saying that it shouldn’t take a shocking event such as this for us to appreciate our children more or hug them tighter etc. Another poster commented that you should be thankful and appreciative everyday your kids come home and no harm was done to them and while I agree with that, I also have to wonder if these people have any kids. As a wife, mother, and student I find myself complacent in my life, running through the ins and outs of a normal day and in the normalcy of my routine I begin to take for granted things in my life as I’m sure most people do. Unfortunately, it takes tragic events like the one that occurred at Sandy Brook for us to snap out of our lackadaisical routines and realize that each day is a gift and not a guarantee.
When I arrived to pick my stepdaughter up from school I noticed a lot more parents there than usual and a lot more moms and dads were together to pick up their children, no one had to say a word. We were all feeling the same thing. After I signed my stepdaughter out and we got to the car I gave her the biggest hug that I’ve given her in quite awhile, told her I loved her and that’s when the flood gates opened. I couldn’t hold back my tears and she immediately asked me what was wrong. The whole way to her school I wrestled with how I was going to tell her, if I was going to tell her. What would it do to her sense of security? How would I handle her questions as I explained what had happened that morning? I found myself caught between joy and guilt. Joy that I was able to bring her home, safe and sound, and guilt because there are so many families who weren’t as lucky. I can only imagine that sentiment was felt by parents who brought home their own children from Sandy Brook Friday evening.
Late that night, after I checked on my children as I always do before heading to bed myself, I stopped to say my prayers. As I prayed for anyone and everyone who was affected by the senseless act that occurred I also took a moment to pray for the shooter and his family. While I shared in the warranted disgust and anger felt by many, I had to remind myself that his family is grieving too and that they shouldn’t be forgotten simply because they share the same DNA as the young man who seemingly lost his mind Friday morning. They’re victims too. I prayed that their community, family, and friends would lift them up in prayer as they would do the innocents that were killed as they went about their morning. I prayed that in the days, weeks, and months to come they would not play the coulda-woulda-shoulda game and feel guilty for the events that transpired. I prayed that they would see they are not responsible for a broken system that has turned its back on the mentally ill and disabled. This system instead made it such a taboo topic that people are afraid to seek help for fear of being labeled or ostracized by society. The true tragedy of these recent attacks is that a number of these individuals were mentally ill and the system failed them. I believe that if our mentally ill citizens were given the help they so desperately need and deserve and there was a greater open dialogue we would see a dramatic decrease in these types of horrific events. While I’m not excusing or condoning the shooters actions, I have to help but wonder what are we doing wrong so that these young men and women feel as though they need to commit these horrendous acts of violence? Where is the gap, where’s the missing link? Are we ultimately responsible? Before people jump to conclusions and start shouting gun control, I must remind people that criminals, and those hell-bent on committing murder, don’t obey laws. Guns aren’t responsible any more than cars are responsible for drunk drivers. The gap lies in our inability to take care of one another properly and I’m not talking about just religion, I’m talking real honest to goodness caring for one another. I was thoroughly disturbed by interviews conducted with the shooter’s neighbors who claim they didn’t know him, and didn’t really know his mother. All too often, these types of scenarios are very true and real, we don’t know the people living next door even though we wave, say the occasional “hello,” and return wrongly delivered mail.
We, society as a whole, need to make a much more conscious effort to get to know the neighbors next door, the loner kid in our class, and the quite young man or woman we see in the same place every single day, because we never know if our attempts to get to know someone will prevent them from doing something unthinkable. As we may never know the shooter’s reason for gunning down his mother and a school full of children, I stop to wonder if maybe he had felt heard by at least one person, or if someone had taken the time to show a special interest in him, would he have gone down the same dark path Friday morning? Or would he have seen the light at the end of the tunnel? While our questions may never be fully answered I’m taking the words from my minister at this evening’s worship service: we need to take care of those around us, regardless if the only thing we can offer is a conversation. I challenge all of us who are still reeling from this tragedy and wondering what we can do to make a difference to start with, “hello.”