This morning 20 children woke up, they went about their morning routine, I’m sure each one was as different and unique as they themselves were.
I’m certain that it was a morning like any other morning, a typical morning that I myself have had a million of. Children, dragging their feet as they get ready for school. Slowly eating each bite of breakfast as they eagerly planned out the activities of their day. Perhaps there was a brief conversation about the latest item that had been added to an ever-growing Christmas Wish List. Next week at this time they’d be starting their Christmas vacation and their little minds were over stimulated with the anticipation of gifts, time spent with their family and the joy of not having to go to school for a short period.
Their parents may have become terse with them and their meandering ways. “Hurry up, put your boots on. We’re going to be late!” Are phrases that most parents utter on those early morning battles to get the kids out the door. “We’ll talk about what you want for Christmas later, after school.” would be a phrase that I would have snapped at them. I mean why do we have to talk about it now, as we’re rushing around. There’ll be lots of time for that later, I mean we still have an entire week to talk about this stuff before Christmas is on our door step. Perhaps some of those parents were rushing home after they dropped their little darlings off at school so they could wrap a few gifts and hide them under the tree while they had peace and quiet with the kids at school.
And then the phone rang, there’s been a shooting at school and those parents hearts flew to their throats as they raced to the school, panic instinctively driving them to get their as fast as they can. Standing in a nearby church, waiting for their child to be brought out of the school and the slight relief they felt as they watched children being rushed out towards them. Watching as other parents scooped their children into their arms and waiting, waiting, waiting. Holding their breath as they waited for the next wave of children to be hurried out of the school and then the heart crushing reaction as they are told that ‘no more children are coming out’. I can see them holding each other, falling to their knees. Sobbing. How can this happen in a school? Children are supposed to be safe here. Colleges, high schools where students are dealing with the emotional weight of being bullied, that’s where stuff like this happens. But who shoots up a Kindergarten class? This just can’t be happening!
My heart breaks for the families of those 20 children. Humanity has never come up with a word that can explain the pain and grief a parent feels when they lose a child, especially in this way. Those parents will never get the chance for that ‘later’ to discuss Christmas dreams. The times that they were testy with their children will play back in their minds forever. Did they hug them, tell them they loved them? They had no idea that this would be their last morning with their children, and the things that should have been said or done but were forgotten because of rushing around will play through their minds for the rest of their lives.
I keep thinking about all those Christmas trees, some may have presents already wrapped, sitting under them, waiting for that special day when chubby little fingers rip the paper off them and the cherubic faces that gleefully look for the first time on that one special gift that makes all their holiday wishes come true. Only that will never happen. Instead those presents will sit there, the unfulfilled promise of future happiness and dreams. Most of those children had a lifetime of firsts before them, first time they rode a bike without training wheels. The first time they wrote their alphabet without help. The first time they could pour a glass of milk without spilling half of it on the counter. Tying their shoes. Lets not even start on those obvious dreams of first kiss, first date, the prom, marriage, children. All of them will never be, and those parents are now broken, they’ll never be the same again.
Images of pain will be flashing across our televisions for the next few weeks as the media try to help us to understand how and why this happened.
A President goes before the cameras, his voice cracking and breaking with emotion as he tries to express the obvious, how horrible and tragic this all is. Tears wiped from his eyes, as he as a parent can’t help but empathize with those parents in Connecticut.
The pain of this day will linger in our hearts, it will linger in the souls of those parents for an eternity.
My hearts and prayers are with them. I know it can’t help to mend what’s been destroyed, but right now it’s all I can do.