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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary: A Nation Grieves

Monday night, December 17, 2012

Three days after something this nation is finding impossible to come to grips with, I am in the leagues of millions trying (unsuccessfully) to understand an incomprehensible tragedy. To say my heart is heavy with sorrow is to understate what is really happening inside my soul.

December 14, 2012 is now engraved into history as the day 20 tiny and innocent children senselessly lost their lives to a monster’s gunfire; 20 precious babies only 6 and 7 years old and 6 adults inside Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as the shooter’s own Mother. Unfathomable, at best.

Grief encompasses a plethora of emotions, none of which have eluded me. Sadness, confusion, anger, fear, bitterness, hatred... even questioning God in a weak moment. While I have no personal ties to the Newtown community or to the deceased, it feels as if I do. Like so many others, I grieve for that community, for those families, for Heaven’s little angels. I just can’t wrap my mind around any of it. All weekend I avoided watching coverage and avoided engaging in conversation about it. I sensed my own personal meltdown looming, so I tried to remain stoic. I did all I could do to make it go away. Soon enough, it would become painfully obvious that those emotions weren’t the kind that would simply “go away.” I came home after work today, turned on the TV, and let myself watch. As pictures of the tiny victims scrolled across the screen, I wept. As I looked at images of horror-stricken parents, I sobbed. In a matter of minutes, the meltdown I had been desperately trying to avoid became overwhelmingly unavoidable. Debilitating sorrow consumed me. I felt the incessant need to just be with my babies and watch them do what children do. Basketball in the back yard, football in the front yard, somersaults in the living room, even something as simple as laughing. The honest moments that can so easily be taken for granted - those are the moments that humble me. In those moments, I see the grace of God. I see what is most important. I see what I live for.

As I sit in my living room, I watch my six-year-old rolling around on the living room floor while singing a made up song about his school day, completely oblivious to the fact that I am counting my blessings as I watch this cherished moment unfold. He is unaware of the joy his giggling is bringing me. He doesn’t know why I am staring at him and smiling, my eyes filled with tears. All I know to tell him is that I love him dearly. I look at the gifts underneath our Christmas tree and am indescribably thankful my children are here to open those gifts. I hug my children tightly, and I feel undeserving. My six-year-old tells me that when he grows up he has “lots of ideas” about what he wants to be. He sings Jingle Bells to me. He hugs me tightly and tells me he loves me to the moon and back. Those are the moments that 20 sets of parents have now been deprived of. The moments that bring delight to those who have young children in their lives.

On this day of sadness, three days after the unthinkable became reality, the tiny bodies of these children are beginning to be laid to rest. The rest of the country is watching, mourning, praying and thanking God for the safety of their own children. How do we cope? How do we heal? How do we move forward? By the grace of God. For me, the words “I love you Mama” have never been so profound, so meaningful, so special. My heart aches for those who will never hear those words again from the child who was so abruptly taken from them. Tonight I will say an extra prayer for the safety of my children, I will be even more thankful than usual for my own good fortune, I will pray that this never happens to the community I am a part of, I will hug my babies a little tighter, but most of all I will pray for those who have suffered loss through this heartbreaking devastation as their painful journey of life-after-loss begins.