“Sad” is a thin word for how I’ve been feeling.
In making a comment on Facebook about raising kids, I said that “they are worth anything and everything.” And then my warmth and love tilted toward the sad as I, once again, thought of Sandy Hook. For this community and those sweet children, and those heroic teachers and all those left to grieve have never been far from my thoughts.
I’ve analyzed and tried to process what has happened there. But how does a person ever process a tragedy like this? I’m supposed to be good with words, but I have had so much trouble finding them. While taking care of the everyday details of life, I am distracted. I am experiencing sadness and shock and awe. Optimism and hope. Loss and empathy. And longing. Lots of longing. All twisted together like the threads of a rope.
Between teaching and volunteering, I have spent about 24 years in elementary schools and so my mind has shown me time and again how this may have played out. As a mother and teacher and human being, it will haunt me for a long while. All I want to do is hug those children and the teachers who protected them.
I am grateful to have my oldest home from college. I am remembering what is important. And I am crying. Still. For those mothers and fathers. Brothers and sisters. All those sweet faces—all that they undoubtedly offered the world in the short time that they were here. And all that the world has lost. And, my chest aches every time I think of their parents. How they probably think that their children are worth anything and everything, too.
I do see people pulling together, though. Reaching out. Opening their eyes and paying attention. I, too, have done these things. It is easy to get lost in the details of everyday life. Since December 14th, I have worked less and listened more. I have taken less for granted. I’ve made some overdue calls and will make more. The things that have been on my mind and have worried me, now worry me far less. And I have witnessed time and again how our humanity seems to flow in the face of events that are so inexplicable.
Late last night, my train from NY rolled into the station. There was a teenage girl who struggled with a large suitcase and so I offered to help her with it. A short time later, she waited in the station lobby holding a cell phone and I asked her if she was okay. If she had a ride. It was nothing—in fact, I almost didn’t ask at all—hesitating because I wondered what she’d think of a stranger asking her if she was okay (I am such an over-thinker.). I ended up asking only because she called after me to thank me for helping with her bag.
It was nothing. Seriously. But it seemed to make such an impression on her. And I began to think of all the little things people think to do—the kindnesses they almost extend and then don’t for some reason. Whether it be worry or overthinking or embarrassment.
I hope that we will all be kinder–strive to be someone’s hero. Not necessarily the kinds of heroes we hear about in Sandy Hook. Just regular, everyday heroes. Offering a smile or a kind word. Inviting someone over for tea who is lonely. For these small kindnesses may have a profound impact. I have been impacted by small gestures, and it makes sense that others would be, too. No more overthinking for me.
This tragedy has been a reality check for a lot of people. A lot of good has followed this horrible event. How it saddens me, though, that our world will go on without those 26 angels.
Drawing done by 7th grader, Connor, from Lousiana (used with permission)