Friday morning, December 14th started the way most mornings do. Some were slow to get out of bed, and others were already on their way to work before the sun came over the horizon.
I was too impatient to wait for the frost on my windshield to melt, so I drove down my road peering through a three inch hole in the ice that my wipers created. The lid on my coffee cup was on crooked and it leaked all over my console. Annoyed about nothing but little inconveniences, I remember thinking, “This day keeps getting better and better.”
And then I turned on my radio.
Today I am putting a stone in place on my cyberpyramid that no one will ever be able to make sense of…or rationalize…or understand…or forget.
On December 14, 2012, in Newtown Connecticut, a young man named Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and made decisions that took a piece of each of our souls.
Yesterday we all watched in disbelief, holding our breath, as the horrifying news trickled out, confirming the worst…that this young man had shot and killed twenty seven people, including his own mother, before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life.
Twenty of those lives lost were young children.
The sadness and ache across our nation for all the lives that were lost is palpable. But the loss of all those children is unfathomable.
As a parent, the privilege of having a child to love is the greatest joy there is. All of us pray to never know what it is like to have that joy ripped from us so unexpectedly.
This morning we will feel a little catch in our throats as we swallow the sorrow for the families who won’t be able to wrap their arms around their children and hug them a little tighter, like we can today. Secretly we will all say a little prayer, thankful it wasn’t our child in that school Friday morning.
The children lost were still shiny and new.
They were not tarnished by the rust of life. They had not had the time to learn real disappointment. They trusted and believed. Their minds were wide open…there really could be a Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.
For most of us, the hollowness that resounds with their loss will be filled in with time and life will move forward. For a while we will think about how precious life is and this crime against humanity will force us to look inward at our own anger and blame. For a brief time, we might even live a little better, kinder, quieter…maybe softer.
We will look for the heroes. Like life preservers, they keep our chins above water so that sorrow doesn’t suck us under when our hearts are heavy enough to sink us. Heroes give us hope that there can be some good from tragedy. Goodness and hope are the fuel of our lives, for without it there is no will to survive.
The shooter took his own life, so the families will be spared a trial. His was a personal hell to have committed to the choices he made. We need not show empathy. We need not understand or forgive his actions. But we do need to reach within ourselves and show sympathy for his desperation…otherwise, his evil wins and destroys what innocence we have left.
Yesterday our hearts stopped and our breath came up short as we were so abruptly reminded of how fragile and brief life is. There is no time for pettiness or regret or procrastination.
We need to pay attention and reach out to support each other and love each other. Life does not come with the guarantee of a second chance.
Now, like an unfinished masterpiece, the world will forever be denied the wonder of what those twenty little lives would have brought.
Yesterday each and every one of us lost.
Day 350…We can all live better.