Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trying to come to terms . . .

After the events of yesterday I think every parent in America is devastated.  What a heartbreaking thing to have happen.  20 children - most probably 5 or 6 years old - gone.  This was not a bus accident - tragic as it would be.  This was not a fire in a building or school.  This was not a middle or high school shooting conducted by these children's peers.  These sort of things, tragic as they may be, have a seed of understanding in them.  You can grasp a reason.  At this point, less than 24 hours later, what you know is that 20 kids and 7 people are dead because someone walked into a school with a gun and killed them.

As a parent it is impossible to understand how anyone could target children, especially children of that age.  How someone could specifically go to those classrooms full of young children and target them.  These were not children who happened to be at a movie where someone just started killing people.  These children were not at a mall shopping with their family and just happened to be killed because they were there.  These children didn't happen to be in a building that was being bombed.  These children were targeted.  5 and 6 year olds.

As a parent of four children, three of them in elementary school and two of them in kindergarten, you can empathize with these parents.  You can imagine what it would be like to get that call and go to the school to get your kids.  You can imagine what it would be like to be looking for your child at that school  - the panic - the joy over finding them.  And, you can imagine what those 20 families who went to that school to pick up their child, a child the same age as mine, and not find them.  Watching other children walk out with their parents, and continuing to look for yours.  Waiting - assuming their class will be coming out of the school soon - only to find out those children will not be coming home with you.  You can imagine the emptiness of their homes and their hearts.

I think most people just feel sick.  I know I do.  Nauseous actually.   I also feel grateful.  This school was about the same size as the school my girls attend.  Middle class neighborhood.  A place where you put your kids on the bus and send them off to school with the assumption that they will get off the bus that night.  I am so thankful this didn't happen at my children's school.  Thankful that I get another night to curl up with my kids and watch Christmas movies with them.  Thankful that we get to sit down and share dinner together.  Thankful that it is them and not me - because in all honestly this could have been any school in America.

This has happened before - senseless killing of young children.  May 18, 1927 Andrew Kehoe rigged the school in Bath, Michigan to blow up.  He was angry that the new school building caused his taxes to go up and now he was in danger of losing his home.  He was a member of the school board and did work on the school when it needed it - so he went in there and set up explosives to blow the school up.  38 people died and 58 more were injured - most of them young children.  October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts entered an Amish school and killed 5 girls and injured 5 more before killing himself.  So this isn't new - but it doesn't make it any easier to understand.

So here I sit, at 5:30 am trying to make sense of things that will never be made sense of.  I was woken up by my 10 year old over an hour ago because she was afraid.  Assuring my 10 year old that her school is safe and it won't happen there.  Listing to her cry as she says, "If they came into our school the first class they would get to after the office would be Sarah's!  I don't want Sarah to die."  Hearing my six year old say, "Mom, someone went in there and killed those little kids.  And this close to Christmas too."  Hearing my 12 year old say, "Why does anyone care.  This happened in Connecticut, this is their problem not ours,"  and trying to explain to him that as a fellow American and a fellow parent it is our problem.  These are our brothers and sisters in this country so when something this tragic happens to them it does - to a certain extent - happen to all of us.  Looking at all four of my kids, who drive me nuts sometimes, and knowing that having them here another night to trash my house and drive me nuts is such a pure gift.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those 20 families who weren't given that gift - as well as the families of the adults who were killed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who walked into that building to try to save children and teachers only to be confronted with the reality of the situation.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the gunman, who lost two family members through these tragic means.  Bad things happen to good people everyday. . . . but this even goes beyond that line.  This is just heartbreaking. 

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