Tragedy Hits Close To Home

In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, we know so many of you have something you’d like to share about your thoughts and feelings regarding this terrible tragedy. Please feel free to comment, or to send us a contribution via

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Amy & Laura

credit: morguefile

by Kelly Youngblood

I’m not going to discuss gun control, mental illness, religion in schools, or the pitfalls of the media. I have an opinion on each issue but I’ll leave that to the politicians and political analysts on CNN and Fox News.

I’m just a small-town mom with three kids (one in first grade) who is pretty shook up by the tragic events and I’m trying to figure out a way to deal with these emotions of sadness, anger and fear.

The shootings may have happened hundreds of miles away in a state I’ve never been to before, but it sure is hitting close to home.

I can’t seem to get the picture out of my head. A young man with a gun enters an elementary school in Connecticut. He shoots and kills 26 people, including teachers, a principal, and first grade students.

Call it fear or paranoia, but in my mind I keep seeing the tragedy play out in the school my child attends, in the hallways and classrooms I’m familiar with, and involving the faculty, staff and students I know. It’s haunting really and I’m wondering how long it will be before I can get the visual out of my head.

I also wonder how long it will be before I can look at my kids without crying. When I see them smiling, laughing and acting so carefree, I think about the children’s lives that were so brutally taken. I’m sure the minutes before the shooting occurred they were happy and carefree too, just like children should be.

I decided after the first two days of watching the coverage non-stop to turn off the news. It was just too much. That has seemed to help a little bit. But then I get on Facebook and see the sweet little faces of all the children who died and many of them remind me so much of my own six-year old. As much as it hurts to see their faces, I do think it’s important to remember their names.

Seeing their parents break down describing their children in the past tense is just agonizing and my heart breaks for them. How do you move on after something like this? I’m having trouble dealing with it and my children are tucked safely in their beds right now with the hope of tomorrow.

I guess that’s the problem though. It’s that thought that keeps me up at night now. If this could happen to these kids and their parents, who’s to say it couldn’t happen to me?

If there’s any positive to this situation, it’s the fact that many moms and dads across the country are resolving not to take any moment with their children for granted. I think many of us are also feeling a deeper respect for our teachers and educators.

I never really thought about a teacher as someone I needed to keep my kids safe from deathly harm and I doubt they went into the profession believing they would face life and death situations.

But in today’s society, I guess being a teacher means more than just educating our kids about dangerous situations. It means protecting them, at the risk of their own lives, from danger too.

I have no grand answers, solutions, or advice to prevent this from happening again somewhere else. I only have the hope that one day, in the not-so-distant future, I will feel safe sending my kids to school again. And I guess that’s where the healing begins- with a little bit of hope.

Kelly is a mom to three wild and wonderful children and a freelance writer for a weekly newspaper. She lives in Mansfield with her husband, kids, and two dogs.

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