By Amy L. Hatch
Twenty sets of parents sent their children to school today, 20 first-graders. Children who have not yet learned to tie their shoes. Children who had sticky hands, children who were just learning about the joy of reading. Children who were excited for Hanukkah and Christmas.
Children who are now dead.
Part of me wants to not write about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and part of me understands that it’s the only way I know how to process why I sat in my living room and wept for nearly six hours as the news rolled in.
It’s part of my job to monitor stories like this, and it has taken its toll on me over the years. It can either make you hard, or it can make you so sensitive that it feels like your skin is inside out. You superimpose your child’s face on the school pictures scrolling across the monitors, you feel the darkness coming over you when you think about the parents that child leaves behind.
The senselessness of what happened today cannot be disputed. Someone who was very sick had access to weapons and turned that anger and fear and frustration and illness on a classroom full of children who were just like my children, and yours.
The violence, it just feels like its creeping closer. Our children are supposed to be safe at school. Sandy Hook Elementary School did everything right. They had locked doors, they had visitor logs, security cameras and procedures.
They were no match for guns.
Nor were the teachers, many of whom died trying to save the lives of their students. They couldn’t protect them, or themselves.
Children are dying every day, killed all over the world in ways that no human being should have to suffer. There is no dignity to their deaths. There is no sense to their deaths. Their blood is so often shed in the name of adult emotion, conflict and incompetence.
I have no proximity to the tragedy in Newtown, except in the sense that I am a mother and a human being and my heart literally aches at the thought of all those homes, now devoid of the joy and love that children bring.
It is so easy to be annoyed with my children. They are 4 and 8, they are challenging and headstrong. They are smart and sensitive and sometimes I want to lock myself in a room and be alone in the dark because I just don’t know how to cope with being their parent for even five minutes more.
Those thoughts are normal. But today, the memory of every time I raised my voice or rolled my eyes stung like a stab to the heart.
My daughter and son are about the age of those who died at Sandy Hook. Their bodies are so small and fragile.
When I picked my son up from school today after first fetching my daughter, the two of them embraced like they hadn’t seen each other in a month. The love between them is so strong—if one lost the other, the survivor would be adrift.
As would I, and their father. And so many more.
Today I felt like maybe the world was broken. And for so many families, today it is. If your world is still intact, I suggest you embrace it.
Tonight, we weep together. I saw a friend tonight as we picked up our kids and she looked at me, and the tears came. It is right and good to share our sorrow, to express it. We are correct to mourn for the children of others.
Because all children belong to us. We need to keep feeling, we need to keep weeping. When we cease to cry collectively, that is when the world really will break.
And then, God help us all.