I don't have to tell anyone in the United States what happened last Friday, December 14th, 2012 in Newtown, CT.
Sometimes it takes me a while to process things. I try to make sense, figure things out, when really there are no answers.
After 9/11, it took me two days to come to grips with the reality of what happened. To allow myself to feel grief, sadness, shock, fear, and anger. After 9/11, I felt that life was so short. Live it up! Make the most of it! Love those around you. You never know when they will be taken away.
Last night the reality of what happened on Friday really set in. I stopped moving, stopped talking, stopped thinking of the next couple of weeks and allowed the sadness to settle in. (Well, it really moved in on its own, but whatever.) And an old feeling crept into my chest. The feeling I had for a long time after 9/11. Grief. Sadness. Shock. Fear. Anger.
There is so much information out there. On facebook, there is a page devoted to the victims, and they are respectful in honoring them. They have asked the families to post pictures and stories, so everyone in the world will know their children for who they were when they were alive. Not for what happened Friday morning.
Everyone immediately started asking the question WHY? And HOW? And then tried to answer those questions. I guess it is human nature. I did it too. And I found out that what I thought was completely wrong. Not that it mattered, but it was poignant to the fact that there are no answers. I tried my hardest not to engage in any type of discussion on facebook where politics would be involved. I didn't think it respectful to the victims, to argue about such things before a funeral can even be held. I kind of failed, but at least it wasn't a spectacular failure.
I tried to share what I could when I found information on the children and teachers who died.
Emilie Parker was the first picture I saw. The bright blue eyes took my breath away. According to her father, she was caring and loved art, always making cards and pictures for anyone who she felt needed a lift. Her father also told the world that his family was grieving not only for all the families affected, but also the shooter's family. Which is a very kind thing to say.
In each of the children, I see someone I know. My 6 year old niece's eyes, the impish smile of a friend's son, the startling resemblance of one of the girls to Charlie. There have been many random shootings in the past 13 years. Each one was tragic and sad. This one hit a little too close to home for me, and most everyone I know. Innocent children. In a place where they are supposed to be safe. Why would someone want to kill innocent children? Why?
Unfortunately, we live in a world where people kill innocent children. People have problems. With the fast pace of today's society, and often intense competition to be better than the next guy, oftentimes things slip through the cracks. In our country, it is extremely difficult to get help for mental illness. Especially if you have no insurance or anything but the best of insurance. No one is perfect, but the slipping seems to be happening more and more and is causing greater and greater damage.
A lot of people want to blame guns. Well, obviously guns are to blame. But getting rid of all the guns in the U.S. isn't feasible even if it wasn't against our Constitution. In my humble opinion, getting rid of the semi-automatic weapons, the ones that do the most damage, that might make a dent. No one, except the military and law enforcement, should have their hands on those weapons. You can learn plenty about gun safety and responsibility with a handgun, and you can shoot a duck perfectly fine with a shotgun.
I wish the answer was as simple as ban on semi-automatic weapons. I don't believe it is. I suffer from depression. I don't get violent, and often roll my eyes when I get the questions from the doctor about hurting myself or others, because that just isn't me. Many MANY people in the United States suffer from some sort of mental disorder. No one is perfect. No one has the perfect DNA or the perfect parents and the perfect life. It just doesn't exist. As much as we strive to attain the American Dream, we just can't.
Over the past couple of days, I have read a couple of very enlightening blogs. One is titled, "I Am The Shooter's* Mother". (*I won't put his name on my page.) It opens your eyes to the life his mom probably lived prior to him killing her in cold blood. Then there is another called "I Am The Shooter's* Psychiatrist." It spells out exactly what is wrong in our society and country. It explains how these people get to the point of losing their minds and killing random, innocent strangers before they get the help they so desperately need. I encourage you to read them, think about them, and then contact your representation in Congress to let our leaders know that people who need mental health in this country are in dire need, and the country is failing them. Violently failing them. Us.
If you want to honor those who died on Friday, learn as much as you can. Try to remember their names. Their faces. Their stories. While, sadly, they weren't the only ones to lose their lives to gun violence on Friday, hopefully they will be the ones that make the difference. The difference needed to make this world, this great country we live in, a better place.