Until Friday afternoon Denmark time, my next post was gearing up to be a parenting piece. During the early evening here I caught brief glimpses online of what was then unfolding in Connecticut, but it wasn’t until my own kids were safely tucked into bed that I sat down and began to understand the magnitude of what had happened.
There is simply no way to wrap your head around the horror that took place on Friday in that sleepy Connecticut town. How could there be? Acknowledging that even on some small level we can comprehend this—-well, that would be admitting that we could see into the abyss ourselves. That there is a small blackness within us that understands. Yet there is an almost driving need to make sense of it. And so we continue to read the news coverage, to see if somewhere in those lines of newsprint or in the unspoken words of the interviewed there is a clue. We wait for press conferences that give us pieces of the puzzle, that serve as some small measure of comfort, that give us a desperately needed feeling of security that this will not happen again.
Or you write, to make some sense of it on the page, to make yourself feel a little less haunted, a little safer. And for that selfishness, I ask your understanding.
Every day children are hurt and wounded and killed. On any given day, children are starving, getting caught in the cross fire, in the wrong place at the wrong time when a bomb falls. Children die of illnesses and in car accidents or at the hands of those that are supposed to love and protect them. And my heart bleeds for them, for their parents, for those left behind. When we hear of the unthinkable happening, we look at our children, safe in their beds. We look at our spouses, hug them a little tighter. We look toward our families, and think about the what ifs. But today, for 26 families, the what ifs are now a reality. Instead of anticipating the holidays, they are planning funerals.
This story is haunting me. Part of it is because of the sheer numbers and the ages of the victims. But a larger part is because there but for the grace of God. Because, as selfish as it sounds, as selfish as it is, these people were like me. They felt safe. Living in a small town in the most liberal part of the United States, with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Their kids were surrounded by people just like them. They weren’t living in a war zone. There was food on the table and there were presents under the tree. When you kiss your child good-bye at the gates of school you never for one minute, not even in your most horrific nightmares, imagine something like this. Until Friday. And now no parent in the United States will ever feel completely safe sending their child to school again.
I mourn the loss of those poor children’s lives. I mourn the loss of those heroic educators that shielded their charges with their own lives. I mourn the loss of innocence. My heart goes out to the families left dealing with the aftermath. To those left behind.
For a while we will all stay a little closer to our children, shout at them a little less, make sure they know how much we love them. Until the horror of Connecticut begins to fade from our memory. And then, for most of us, life will slowly return to the normal status quo.
Until it happens again.