Seconds after I reversed out of the parking spot in front of DePalma’s, I broke down. As news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school exploded into unimaginable horror, I could no longer remain just an observer of the unfolding tragedy. I stopped my car in the middle of 23rd Street and wept. I thought of the deceased children and their heartbroken families, my own children and as I considered the unimaginable evil, my tears were accompanied by a raw, keening wail.
I cried and my soul cried out.
I can’t explain why this feels different than the devastating Colorado theater massacre or even Columbine. No less painful; just different. Perhaps as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate how precious and delicate life is. Perhaps I’m fearful that whatever remnant of innocence existed on this earth breathed it’s final time today. Can anything exist that is more precious, pure and worthy of protection than the cherub faces of five and six year old children?
I’ve been heartbroken; overwhelmed with a level of grief I can’t exactly define, but what right do I have? My pain is nothing compared to the anguish in Connecticut. The images emerging of terrified children being led from the school with their hands placed on the shoulder of their classmates, coupled with shattered mothers and fathers are more than I can bear at times. The crumpled faces of strangers across our nation seem especially poignant because they reassure me that my sorrow is not selfish, but shared.
Heartbreaking stories have emerged on Twitter. One woman placed twenty kisses on her daughter’s cheek in honor of the little girl’s slain friends. Another shared a picture of her young son on his knees with hands clasped in prayer. One tweet simply read, ‘He’s gone.’
Perhaps the future will yield understanding, but I doubt comprehension is possible without God’s help.
My flesh wars with my spirit. I don’t want to feel joy that a murderer is experiencing hell because regardless of the evil visited on those babies and educators today, God does not delight in lost souls. Perhaps He will soon help me overcome that which makes His redemption necessary.
This evening, hug your children. Embrace them because you love them and envelop them because they need comforting. Hold them because twenty mothers and twenty fathers would love to be in our shoes right now.