Last Friday began as any other Friday. People prepared for their work and school day, said goodbye to their loved ones as they ventured to their places of employment and educational institutions. Nobody could have imagined the horror that would soon transpire. Without warning or apparent reason, a young man by the name of Adam Lanza, having already killed his mother by shooting her four times, shot his way into Sandy Hooks Elementary School in Newtown, CT and killed 20 children and 6 school employees before taking his own life.
I didn’t find out about this school shooting until early Saturday, but as a mother and a human being the news broke my heart. I sobbed as I read the horrific details and I couldn’t help but think of what that community and the families of the victims were going through and how could they survive such a tragedy. I had a confusion of feelings as I went between sadness, anger, shock and just plain outrage that something so senseless could happen to children at such a young age without any reason, explanation or warning. What could possibly bring a man to snuff the life out of so many innocent children and their educators, as well as his own mother? The sad fact is that we may never know, and knowing won’t undo what’s been done, or bring back those that have been lost…they are gone…forever.
All I wanted in that moment was to talk to my son (who was at his father’s for the weekend). I needed to tell him I loved him. I wanted to hold him, knowing so many parents in the Newtown area would be unable to do so with their babies that night and my heart ached for their losses. What if this tragedy had happened in my community? What if it had been my child, my niece or nephews, my child’s friends and classmates? So many thoughts ran though me.
As a parent, as a person, as a citizen my heart has hurt for the Newtown community as they’ve begun laying these senseless victims to rest in the highly publicized funerals, and have wondered how I’d feel knowing that my pain and loss was on display for the entire country through the media. Would I feel supported by the outpouring of concern or would I feel violated by the lack of privacy in that awful time in my life and in the lives of my family and friends as we mourned over our lost loved ones?
Despite my queries, a few things I knew with certainty. Life is short and we are without a crystal ball to foresee the future. We are often quick to anger, long to resent, cautious to love, and slow to forgive. What if someone is holding onto grudges from past mistakes when something like this happens? Parents angry at their children for decisions they’ve made in the ignorance of youth, or adults holding onto resentments of mistakes or decisions made by their parents in their rearing? Any of the 28 victims (including the shooter and his mother) of the Sandy Hooks Elementary School massacre will not have a second chance, a chance to say goodbye, or to apologize to loved ones, and loved ones must go on with any unsettled business forever remaining unfinished. Don’t wait till tomorrow to open your heart to love and forgiveness because there is no guarantee that tomorrow will come for everyone. Be quick to love, be quick to hug those you love and to tell them you do. As humans we are all imperfect, none of us blameless. Forgive the sins of the past, and love in the present and the future we’re lucky enough to enjoy with the ones who matter most to us. To all my loved ones, be you family or friend, know you are loved and accepted…flaws and all.