I wanted to write an entry about the shooting at Sandy Hook school, Connecticut. I guess I won’t have anything to say that has not been said a million times before. I want to say it anyway.
I have heard of shootings before. The recent shooting during a screening of a Batman movie, the massacre in Norway and closer to home – Derrick Bird the crazed taxi driver in Cumbria. I have even heard of shootings in schools before. Dunblane, Columbine and Virginia Tech to name a few. For some reason this time it resonates with me a lot more. I could not get Sandy Hook school out of my head today. I went through the day as if I had been personally bereaved. I read the newspaper numbly. Why this time does it feel worse?
I don’t know. Maybe because it is just before Christmas. Maybe because it is a time where we should all be happy. Joy to the world and goodwill to all men and all that jazz. Things always seem harder to take at Christmas.
But really I think it is because my own children are 7, 6 and 4 years old and all I keep thinking is – this could have been them. That is it. Maybe completely selfish. But over and over again – THAT COULD HAVE BEEN MY CHILD. I looked at the pictures in the newspaper today – 20 smiling children. 6 and 7 year old girls looking sweet and angelic – butter wouldn’t melt but with a hint of maturity about them – a sign of the women they would become. Just like my Lauren. 6 and 7 year old boys – faces full of mischief, still babies but fiercely smart – just like my Joseph. It is hard to imagine how I would feel if something like that happened to my child. People say to me "oh I don’t read the news because it is all doom and gloom" I showed my friend a picture of the children who died and she turned her face away and said "I don’t want to see – it is too horrible". Maybe they are right. What good does it do to upset myself reading about these atrocities? But I have to. Okay I am thousands of miles away from Sandy Hook school. I am all the way over here in my little corner of England. And we don’t have the same gun culture here don’t you know – blah blah – it is all just words. Because no matter where we are we are all the human race. We should all know what is going on in the world and we should all show compassion for our neighbours – even those on the other side of the world.
I am not going to enter into debates on gun laws in America and politics and the rights and wrongs because I simply do not have the answer. Who knows what made a young man shoot a class of innocent children? Not me.
I watched a video of Robbie Parker whose daughter Emelie was killed on Friday. He is 30 years old. Younger than me. I watched his video and wept for him. He was teaching his daughter Portugese. He thought he had a lifetime to spend with her but he only had a moment.
We say to our kids "no you can’t have a new toy, wait until Christmas." "You are too young, I will tell you when you are older". "I am tired tonight, we can play that game tomorrow." I know we have to live realistically – we have to plan for the future. We can’t live every day like it might be our last – that would not work in the real world. But the more I hear of children being shot, kidnapped, going missing, murdered by their own families, the more I am learning to treasure every minute.
I got home from work today and I cuddled my kids. I felt their legs, their arms. I kissed their heads. I felt their life – strong, young, vibrant, vital!
they have not a care in the world – as it should be. I told them I love them – that they are beautiful and wonderful. Too many children die in fires like the Philpotts this year. Too many children are abducted like April Jones this year. Too many children are massacred in the supposedly safe environment of school like those 20 in Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday. One is too many.
I feel like a very small part of me has died this year. The part that believes that all people are inherently good. The part that believes that no mater how someone behaves that deep down they must have good in their soul. The part that trusts that good beats evil every time. That if you do the right thing then you will be ok in the end. The child in me has died.
So I just pray for the families of those who have suffered this year. Especially the residents of Newtown, Connecticut but also all the others who have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
My heart mourns for you all and I will try to appreciate every day I have, and every day that my children are happy and healthy because every day from now on the voice in my head will tell me – that could have been my child.