I completely missed the news on Friday. By Saturday morning, posts on FaceBook were furiously popping to the top of my newsfeed about the shooting. Several were a photo of a beautiful young woman who, at 27, is believed to have died huddled over her first grade class.
I made the mistake of going to the WSJ page that profiles the victims. Every loss I’ve ever felt seemed to rise up from some place outside my consciousness and stick in my throat. These tiny children. These innocent, unsuspecting children with an entire lifetime ahead of them. All gone. In minutes.
Another post appeared on FB. It was a line from comedian Andy Bororwitz. It’s too true to be funny: “Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.”
I find myself imagining Daniel Barden going to swim practice today. Olivia Engel twirling around in a tutu. Catherine Hubbard swinging on a playground swing, snug in a warm winter coat. Chase Kowalski grinning ear-to-ear while tossing a baseball. Jesse Lewis drinking hot chocolate with bright pink cheeks, having just come in from the cold. Emilie Parker making homemade christmas ornaments for her teacher. Noah Pozner growing up and going to his bar mitzvah.
I read through the list of names that seems to go on forever. I have to stop imagining the futures that will never come.
A friend posts a quote from Mr. Rogers on FB: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
I adore Mr. Rogers. There is no one more comforting. But I remain troubled that all the helpers in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy–and there were many–couldn’t stop one man with 3 guns from killing 26 people in minutes. Not just 26 people; 26 futures. About 1600 years of future were lost amongst just the children killed on Friday. 1600 years, 584,000 days, 14,016,000 hours of future. How many hours does it take to cure cancer, end hunger, solve health care, find a way for us to peacefully co-exist? What did all of us lose because we collectively haven’t found a way to prevent these tragedies?
Another friend shares a post from Maya Angelou, one of my personal heroes:
“Our country is grieving. Each child who has been slaughtered belongs to each of us and each slain adult is a member of our family. It is impossible to explain the horror to ourselves and to our survivors. We need to hold each other’s hands and look into each other’s eyes and say, ‘I am sorry.’”
I am deeply, deeply sorry.