(I wrote most of this post on December 19th, but was unable to finish it.)
This is the fifth day in a row that I have weeped. Today it was while reading the paper. Then I cried again while driving around town and seeing all the flags at half mast. I'm not sure when I have last cried this much. Maybe after September 11th? My heart is broken. On Friday, December 14th, a 20 year old young man shot and killed his mother then took the lives of 26 other innocent people at an elementary school in Connecticut. All twenty of the children were only six or seven years old. We know that at least one of the teachers lost her life while trying to divert the gunman and hide her students. The crime is unspeakable, unimaginable, and completely senseless. Unfortunately, it is not a completely unfamiliar scenario. We already know the ending. The killer commits suicide, but not until he has taken with him many innocent lives and destroyed the lives of so many others.
As a nation, we have already mourned tragedies this year in Auroro, Colorado (movie theater shooting) and at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. In Louisville alone there has been 50+ homicides this year including an incident when a man killed two people during a homeowner's association meeting held at a local church. He killed these people over a dispute about a driveway. It is hard to imagine that someone could have such a blatant disregard for the value of another's life. I confess that I did not weep over the murders in my city. It upset me of course, but this time the victims were much younger. They were innocent school children. Tiny little six and seven year old babes that still play with dolls and believe in Santa Claus. Precious children whose parents already had presents waiting for them for Christmas morning. Our oldest daughter is three years old and attends preschool. It is unimaginable to me that I could drop her off and that she wouldn't be there to hug me when I came back for her. Jeremy has processed the shooting differently. I asked if he had cried and he said "Yes, but I just can't go there." Meaning he can't even think about the horror of "What if that was our children..."
I have tried to stay away from watching the news reports. Even with keeping off the television, there is no escaping what happened. I've read wise words from others on blogs and websites as they try to process and make sense of a senseless tragedy. I've been brought to tears every time. Every now and then Emily catches me reading the paper as I cry about another aspect of the case that has come to light. She asks, "What's wrong, Mommy? Why are you crying?" I haven't told Emily anything about the shooting. She's three years old. What would I say? I want her to remain innocent for as long as possible. But even Emily is beginning to understand that evil exists in this world. In fact, she asked me the other day, "What does evil mean?" She asks me, "Why are the stepsisters mean to Cinderella?" I try to answer her wisely and give her just enough information to answer her question without scaring her.
Our youngest is almost three months old. I have a lot of time to think as I nurse him six times a day and rock him before bedtime and naps. As I rock him, I pray for our children. I pray that God would protect them all of the days of their lives. I pray for guardian angels to watch over them. I pray that they would choose to love and serve God. I pray that mental illness would not have a home in their minds. I pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort the grieving families.
I pray Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express.
I pray for our country's leaders to make wise choices in the coming months with legislation that may alleviate the severity or frequency of these crimes. However, I know that there is no legislation that can keep away all such tragedies--no gun law or mental health provision can stop a deranged person who is hell bent on killing. So as I cry for these victims, I am thankful that my family is here with me today and I am reminded that life is a gift and its length is uncertain.
A few days prior to the shooting, I had a conversation with my boss about my work plans post-maternity leave. I struggled with what to do because I have an awesome part-time job in my field. However, Jeremy and I had grown weary with trying to figure out childcare plans because every good situation we find tends to be temporary. Then we are back to searching again. (It is much more difficult to find good part-time childcare than full-time care. Many childcare centers do not take part-time kids.) So, with some uncertainty, I told my boss that I hoped to transition to prn work (meaning I only work as I want to and as they need me.) Jeremy pretty much left the decision up to me even though I kept pressing for him to tell me what he really wanted. I felt pretty certain that we were doing the right thing, but I still had doubts and misgivings. Then two days later, the shooting happened and it confirmed the decision for me to be home with our little ones. I don't know how long this situation will last, but at least for this season in my life, I know that I am needed more at home than at work. I realize that we are lucky to have a choice because many parents do not have a choice. I also know that whether a Mom or Dad works outside the home or not has nothing to do with how much you love and cherish your children. Providing for your children through honest work IS loving them and I think sometimes we forget that. I just wanted to say that for me, the choice I was wrestling with became very clear in light of this tragedy and I am now thankful for even the hard days at home with my children.