It’s been a few days. A few days of wanting so badly to write something, to provide some sort of healing, to offer a bit of light in such a time of darkness. I’ve been struggling to find the words, am quite honestly still struggling, but I will do my best and hope that it offers some solace or perhaps a perspective you can share and find comfort in.
First, I would like to start by offering my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families whose lives will never be the same. To the parents whose faith must be shattered. To the people whose hearts have been ripped wide open. To the community who has an almost unimaginable amount of healing ahead of them. To the heroes and the first responders who will surely need counseling after witnessing what they witnessed on Friday. From this corner of New England, I know I speak for the world at large when I say that we hope you can feel the power of our prayers and our love and our sympathy. It is my sincere hope that this outpouring of love and support can give you the strength to eventually put the pieces of your lives back together and move on as best as you possibly can. I pray you find the wherewithal to find faith in humanity again, as difficult and challenging as it may be. I commit to honoring those lives in whatever ways I can think of.
There is no doubt that the world is still reeling from Friday’s loss of life in Connecticut. How can you not mourn for those that lost their lives way too soon? How can you not grieve for the parents of those children? And for the teachers and administrators that put their own lives on the line in an attempt to prevent the unspeakable? My soul has been at half-staff ever since, and my heart continues to ache. As people tend to do, we mourn in different ways. Some cry. Some hold it in. Some love a little harder and deeper. Some champion for a cause or find a way to positively redirect their emotions. Some drown their sorrows in CNN and watch the same horror over and over and over again; perhaps praying for answers, perhaps numbing themselves. Some blame. Some steel in their resolve to “never let this happen to them,” as if that is even possible. Some act in fear and withdraw from society. Our reactions are as varied as our DNA.
I am a mother. My first reaction was one of sheer disbelief. How could someone do that? What would possess ANYONE, regardless of mental faculties, to carry out something like this? How sick do you have to be to have such a mind-numbing disregard for human life? My second reaction was immediate and simultaneous sorrow and sympathy. In having children of my own, I could FEEL the pain of those parents. It resonated with me on such a primal level that it is hard to describe with words. My third, albeit brief, reaction was fear. My youngest daughter was at her elementary school that morning and my oldest was at a birthday party in downtown Boston. Were they safe? Had they heard about this? Were they scared or confused? How was I going to tell them about this? How could I reassure them? Could I stay strong? Was it okay if I didn’t?
While keeping the television and radio off for the remainder of the day, I came up with these thoughts and they have helped me to communicate with my children, retain my faith in humanity, and act in accordance with my beliefs. I hope that in sharing my heart with you that they might help you as well.
- As parents, we worry and fret and hover over and love and care for our children every single day. We vow to keep them safe and we try our damnedest to protect them from the unknown. But, when you think about it, every moment of every day is an unknown. We HAVE children out of acts of faith and love, but once they are here, we become wrought with fear and uncertainty. We childproof so they won’t bump their heads. We Purell so they won’t get sick. We deny them sleepovers so they won’t stay up too late or eat too much junk food. We keep them from dating and getting in cars because we fear for their safety. We go on the offensive and we take every preemptive strike we can think of. Friday was a reminder that there are no guarantees, and that each moment that we are together on this earth is an inimitable gift. Life is fragile and precious, but oftentimes it takes a large scale tragedy to remind us of that.
- I am more convinced than ever that my children will cope with events like this by watching how we coped (and so will your children). So, we have coped by offering them a brief, age-appropriate explanation, honoring the victims in whatever ways we can, not attaching any of our own hyperbole or rhetoric to the events, keeping the news off, and offering them nothing but love. We refuse to speak words of hate about the shooter and we will absolutely not place blame or make anyone a scapegoat. Blame and hate do absolutely nothing to reverse the events and change what happened; they only breed more blame and hate – something we definitely do not need any more of.
- We have asked them, and will continue to ask them to not only LOOK for the good in society, but for them to BE the good in society. As their role models, we will continue to act that way as well. And, we will continue to keep the lines of communication open because we believe that is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. In our opinion, they should hear about events of this magnitude from us – not on the playground, from a text message, from their friends’ parents, or on the Internet.
- We will let them see us be vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness. There is actually tremendous strength and bravery in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you allow yourself to be human.
- We will teach them how to be good, kind, loving, and empathetic EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because the world needs more of that.
- As much as we may want to move to a small cabin in the woods, lock them in their rooms, and remove them from all harm — that is not feasible. Nor is it rational. It clips their wings before they have even had a chance to soar. I refuse to let our fear be their prison. Instead, we will encourage them to share their gifts with the world, be a friend to those in need, and live out loud. And we will be thankful for every single moment we have been given.
- And, as much as we possibly can, we are going to teach them how to work WITH people and not AGAINST people in order to make this world a better place. The world needs their compassion more than ever. Hate is a learned behavior and they surely won’t learn that under this roof.
I saw this quote today and I thought it was very fitting for this post, for the times we are living in, and as a tribute to those who lost their lives: “Fear and faith each ask you to believe something you cannot see. Fear asks you to believe the negative. Faith asks you to believe the positive.”
I continue to choose faith.
There was ONE shooter on Friday, but there were COUNTLESS heroes. I have faith in the heroes.
In closing, I hope that my words have served you in some way today. It was difficult to compose these thoughts in the wake of such darkness, but I did my best and gave you all a piece of my heart. All I ask is that you honor the fallen in Connecticut in whatever way fills your hearts. But, please promise me that you will make the main motivator faith, and not fear.
With peace, hope, and so very much love,