There are no words here that will make a difference. It’s just a link filled with a pile of grief. There are millions of these surfing the net tonight, and this is just one of them. I’m a writer, yes, but words do no justice to a day like this. Words don’t heal the hemorrhaging wounds, they don’t undo the wrong and can’t bring back what’s gone.
Memphis began it’s sunny, cool Friday excited for the new MemShop that’s revitalizing a fantastic area of the city, ready to cheer on our Tigers tomorrow vs. archnemesis Louisville. Then, we got news of a shooting involving two of our city’s finest. The day turned grim. We lost one of those brave women in the line of duty today. She leaves behind four children. She was 32.
This news was hard to swallow, but as a city we’d done this before and knew how to grieve through this, banding together, sending money to memorials set up in her name, making sure those kids still have a Christmas, even though they no longer have a mom. These are the things we will do, I’m sure of it. Because despite what you may have heard about Memphis, there’s a ton of good ones here.
An hour later, Newtown, Connecticut became a familiar place on the map all the sudden.
Then, the day turned pitch black.
News reports trickled in and the numbers went higher and higher. Pictures posted of tears, hugs and even one of a couple of the students smiling – I hope they keep not understanding why they shouldn’t be smiling. I hope they were evacuated out of another exit, which kept their innocence intact.
As it stands this evening, 20 children are among the near 30 who were killed at that elementary school. I did a bit of math, and low-balling the family member totals – that’s at least 300 people who will open sympathy cards this month, when they should be opening Christmas cards. Planning for a funeral, when they should be planning for a place to store all the gifts Santa brought.
It’s not something I can fathom. I’m an aunt, which means I can’t imagine losing my gorgeous, precious nieces. Being a parent is something completely different, though. All day long Facebook feeds scrolled with posts of parents just wanting to go get their kids from school and hold them, hashtags all sad and linked to tragedy. Staying tuned in all day has left me overwhelmed and completely sad, with a tornado of thoughts.
Don’t ask why, but I keep picturing the scene, and trying to imagine being a parent of a student at Sandy Hook. I can’t.
I wonder what these children did last night before they went to bed. What are the last memories these parents have of them?
Did they tell a new joke a classmate taught them, did they learn how to spell a new word, did they finally learn to ride that bike without training wheels? Was it their birthday, today? Did their parents tuck them in last night and talk about what they wanted Santa to bring them?
I typed up Santa letters today from kids this age. They often wish Santa a Merry Christmas and tell him to have safe travels. Innocence of the purest kind.
So, I certainly also cannot imagine a man who was in the prime of his life mind you, coming to take all this innocence away with his hands, and now as the news states…apparently his mother’s guns. I can fathom a sickness and delusion that runs so deep that might make you evil. But killing beautiful children as they probably looked up at you wondering who you were and if you had safe travels…can’t conceive.
Things seem darker lately and I chatted with God about it on the way home, and wondered aloud to Him if that’s a result of an actuality or of me growing older and less naive. It doesn’t matter. Perception is reality, I suppose.
My heart is heavy tonight. Strangers across this nation and the world are grief-stricken and in utter and complete shock that this happened – again. This marks the second mass shooting this week in the U.S. and the third if I’m keeping count – WOW- just checked the totals, and that actually makes 16 mass shootings this year, alone. That’s a far cry from 3.
Of all the school shootings that I’ve seen in my lifetime, this one likens, in my mind, to Columbine. Because of that massacre, I officially invited the J man into my life. So, I’m the girl who sits here tonight with a Starbucks within reach and laptop on a Santa place mat wondering if things like this happen for that reason – to “save” others. I’m one of those. But I will never be OK with the thought that others have to go, just so some of us can stay and get it right. Seems quite unfair, especially when there are children involved.
Tonight, many of us will (hopefully) go home and lean on our loved ones and hug them tight. That’s, of course, what we do when things like this darken our sunny Friday. We’ll make a check out to a memorial fund, pray for those who are gone and the ones left behind wondering if Santa will bring them their baby back, write a blog trying to make sense of it all, tweet a prayer, post a quote or picture. We’ll remind ourselves and our loved ones that only God knows why things like this happen, even though on the inside we can’t ever think there’s an acceptable reason – though we may never say that. We might glue ourselves to CNN or Fox, which ever your preference and hit refresh on the website for latest updates on who, what, when and yearn for that why to pop up. Or we might pop in an Adam Sandler or Muppet movie and pretend this day didn’t happen. Parents will squeeze their babies, and glance at them over the next few days as they’re just eating their chicken nuggets or sleeping and think, “Thank you God.” We’ll give a little extra thanks to the Big Man for the blessings around us, even if we’re sitting here blogging and wondering how come blessings come in abundance to some and hardly at all for others. We’ll look down at the dog and be ever so grateful for his cute face, and it’ll hit us…is that what it feels like to be a parent? We’ll be a confused mix of blessings and sorrow tonight.
We’ll try, somehow, to convince ourselves there’s still a ton of good ones out there.