I listened to the news, I thought about the horrific act that had taken place.
But I didn't feel.
I picked up Porter, my own Kindergartner, from school, and tried to look at him with new eyes.
I didn't see anything different, I still wasn't feeling.
Because maybe if I didn't feel, maybe, just maybe....it wouldn't be real.
But then, Friday night, I saw her picture.
Not the picture of an alive Kindergartner that I was trying to put in the place of one of the victims. I was looking at the face of a little girl, an actual tragedy, who was gone. Whose parents were left in shock. And desperation. With empty arms. With one less child to put to bed that night. Left with explanations to give to innocent siblings. Left with a gaping hole in their heart that will never be filled.
That's when I started feeling.
And the feeling part....that's what hurts.
The pangs in our heart make me start begging to go back to how it was before: to restore innocence lost, to close the doors of rampant what-ifs that we had yet to open. The world was already scary pre-Friday. Schools were already a plausible target, a possible war zone.
But not all schools, not elementary schools.
We hadn't entered that realm of possibility.
We had already been exposed to the knowledge that our middle-schoolers, our high schoolers were at risk.
But our Kindergartners?
Not our babies.
The standard for low has been, yet, redefined. Has found an even lower low.
And this aching desire to go back to how things were before, of wanting to continue as we were before this tragedy...
that's what has got me thinking.
This wish to not feel so much, to guard ourselves, to be less vulnerable, to band-aid up the rawness.
To go on unaffected.
To simply forget.
To avoid change.
I want to just be the same. How I was before another tragedy occurred.
But isn't that what life is about?
About changing, evolving, becoming?
In my eyes, that nearly defines life.
Letting yesterday catapult us into growing into something better, someone more understanding, more loving.
Which means if I try to shut my eyes so tight and ignore the tragedies around me, that I'm missing this chance to change.
To be changed.
This need, this design to change and be changed, comes with a responsibility to me.
I'm not talking about the victims and the families directly affected.
I have no idea what it is like to be in their shoes, and I won't even try to suggest what they should be doing with their new reality.
But me, as a mere outside, onlooker,
how am I going to change?
This weekend alone people have been trying to send the message that schools, hospitals, and hotels are not safe places. In the recent days I've heard stories that try to prove that our own homes aren't safe places. Churches aren't safe. Movie theaters aren't safe. There is no safety. There is nowhere to run and hide.
So now what???
Am I going to change to be a recluse, to minimize my exposure, to live to outwit death and tragedy, but nothing more?
How am I going to change?
Who am I going to become because of this tragedy we've all been exposed to?
All around us exist catalysts for change.
The fireman that goes in and rescues the child he had never met before that moment. The teacher that lovingly teaches a struggling child to read, planting the seed for a better future.
These heroes inspire.
But ironically, it seems that out of tragedy, out of something so terrible, comes a fiery inspiration as well.
Because all of a sudden, I want to be a better mom.
I want to live for today. I want to reach for my dreams so that my kids have
have an example of going after dreams, an example of what it means to live life.
I want to help them discover their dreams, what makes them tick.
I want to help them find courage to do hard things, to go for it-- whatever that it may be.
I want us, together, to take advantage of whatever is at hand, right here, right now.
Because that's all we have.
Right now is what we are guaranteed.
I want my little family to take what we have and use it for good. To touch each other's lives as family members. Touch the lives of strangers. Whomever or whatever opportunity is in our path, I want us to seize it.
And this burning fire of desire has been stoked....
by the tragedy of Sandy Hook.
Let's be the opposite factor.
Let's be the weight that pulls the scale into balance.
Let's fuel the war for good,
starting in our own hearts and actions,
hoping that they'll spread outward.
I refuse to lose hope, to scurry off and hide, because of evil.