I am not a parent. I am not one of the millions of people who will send my child back to school in a changed world on Monday morning. I will not experience that moment of doubt or hesitation as I send my child off to a place that should be as safe as their own home, holding on to them a little longer than usual as I wrestle with emotions that no parent should ever have to feel. I will not have to have that difficult conversation with a child of seven or of seventeen, struggling desperately to answer an earnest question of “why,” when I don’t even know the answer to that question myself.
I am not a teacher. I am not one of the millions of people who choose to care for and guide future generations, who do so with a loving and patient hand. I won’t look into the faces of twenty or thirty kids who are as dear to me as my own, choking down that sickening feeling of “what if.” I won’t have to attend a training session on what to do if a worst case scenario, heaven forbid, ever pays visit to my own school.
I am not a lot of things, but what I am, what we all are, is human. And collectively, on Friday, December 14, we, as teachers, as parents, as aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and as humans, mourned a great loss. A loss of twenty precious angels, aged six to seven, innocently going about their day at school. A loss of six incredibly brave adults, adults who sought to protect those angels, adults who left behind their own angels and loving families. An intangible loss of security, of confidence, of feeling safe where one should feel safest. Something, that some of us, will never get back.
As we mourned on Friday and throughout the weekend, some of us naturally turned towards anger. We shook our fists and raised our voices. We screamed questions of “why?” and “how can we prevent this from happening again?” We offered up our own solutions, citing better gun control laws, easier access to mental health resources and education, bringing religion into schools, teaching better values at home.
We pointed towards all of the usual suspects, desperately seeking resolution, desperately reaching out for some kind of tool to prevent this horror from ever touching us again.
But even in our anger, even in our frustration, confusion, and sadness, we reached out. In the days that followed that unspeakable horror, the world seemed to swallow up Newtown, Connecticut and its mourning citizens in a collective embrace of helping hands, of shoulders to cry on, of shared tears. There were teddy bear and greeting card drives, words written to ease minds and to incite change, dollars collected to provide support to a broken community.
Even in darkness, there is always some light. In this case, it glows from a million hearts from around the world, who collectively grieve for the parents, the teachers, the children, the friends, and the families of those touched by Friday’s event.
I am not a parent. I am not a teacher. But I am and, forever will be, touched by the events of Friday, December 14, 2012 and by the aftermath of love and kindness that restored faith and comforted, not just victims, not just families, but the whole of humanity. Let us not remember the evil that spurred this immeasurable loss. Let us remember the love that caused the world to reach out, the heroes who will undoubtedly continue to emerge, and the spirits of those sweet angels who are now in the arms of a loving God.
All the way down here in Georgia, my light shines for you, Newtown.