If there is a God, I think he or she knows I have delicate emotional sensibilities. Every time there is a national tragedy, I seem to have some personal problem distracting me from taking immediate notice. Yesterday, most of my family was sick with the flu. I was too busy washing bedsheets, comforting children, and sneaking rest to hear about the incident in Connecticut until well into the evening. For that, I am thankful because as soon as I heard the news, I could think of little else.
The prior evening, I had gone out with a couple of other moms for a beer. I returned home to the sound of my washing machine running- not a routine noise in our house at bedtime. My husband was changing my son’s pajamas after his first churn of the stomach. Liam was sobbing and ran into my arms nearly the second I entered his room. We got him cleaned up, calmed down and returned to bed.
About ten minutes later, Liam cries “Mommy! Mommy!” I ran to his room, and clutched him in my arms. He began to vomit down my shoulder. Upon reflection, I realized how much becoming a mother had caused my compassion to expound. If I found myself in a similar situation in the past, my disgust would have been visible and vocal. But with my son, my heart went out to him. There was no room for revulsion because all I wanted was for him to feel better. As his sickness repeated through the night, my heart broke. I knew his young mind did not fully grasp what was happening. He kept saying “I don’t like this” and looking to me to make it stop. I smoothed his hair and said “I know, I know. You’ll feel better soon.”
When I heard about the shooting in Connecticut, my first thought went to the parents. How are they going to live with this? I can’t even imagine the dichotomy of having a piece of yourself taken from you, without warning, with such brutality, and being forced to live on in the aftermath.
But I also thought of the shooter’s mother. Had she cuddled her son like I had when he was sick, wanting nothing more than to bring him comfort? Had he clung to her believing she could make everything alright? This person did not start out as a killer. He had once been a little boy. What could possibly happen to that child to steer his course so far off path?
I think of the father and brother of that little boy that are left behind to answer the questions. Of the looks that will be cast their way, wondering why they didn’t do something to help him, why they didn’t stop him.
There is so much speculation as to what the answers are. More gun control, more security, more fear. I admit, I immediately thought of Liam’s school and how someone could gain access if needed. It scared me to think a criminal could get close to him, in a place I left him and deemed safe.
My friend Dan wrote something. “If you have kids, hug your kids. If you don’t have kids, hug your parents. If your parents aren’t around, call me. I’ll give you a hug.” No, I don’t live in some magical place where everything is fixed with hugs and good intentions. But I do believe if we opened our hearts a bit more and lived our lives with kindness and compassion, we might avoid more tragedies like this. At the very least, we might make it through them easier.
My thoughts are with every person affected by the act of this single man. I hope you are able to find some small bit of comfort in this darkest hour and let it grow into something to sustain you. Peace on Earth, good will toward men. Let’s live that.