The very monster children fear—the stranger we always warn them about—forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, stealing the lives of some, and the innocence of all. He robbed the Newtown community of its sons and daughters. Their young flames, once burning bright, have been replaced by candles, thus remembered through vigils across the nation.
News outlets will continue to repeat every single detail they have in an attempt to derive meaning from this senseless act. Police officials and investigators will continue to piece together the shooter’s motives in order to develop some understanding. We will continue to hear speculative chatter and concrete evidence as the days, weeks, and months progress. But eventually, for those not directly involved, the story will fade, becoming just another atrocity for the record books. Most will go back to living life as usual in an attempt to forget that something so horrific could happen right in their own backyard.
Surely, we will hear about the shooter’s tortured mind ad nauseum, but nothing these officials discover will bring back the 20 children and six adults who lost their lives. We can condemn the killer and debate our nation’s gun laws, but their parents will still have to face an empty bed each night.
The news coverage has been non-stop since the reports started pouring in Friday morning. On TV, on the radio, on Facebook and Twitter, no one can escape the sadness, least of all the families of the deceased. We’ve heard stories about heroes, and memories of the slain, but when the tears become too much, we can simply turn it off. I’ve found myself on the verge of uncontrollable sobbing numerous times over the last two days and I begin to feel guilty each time my heart starts to ache. I am not a parent, and I am not related to any of the deceased, but I am overcome with grief for the young lives lost. I cannot even begin to fathom how these families can even continue to breathe. I find myself staring into the void, only to come back to reality when I think of how my friend’s cousin must be crumbling to pieces as they prepare to say goodbye to their pride and joy.
Nothing we say to anyone impacted can ever ease the pain or rectify the injustice brought upon their family. We need to realize that the only thing we can do right now is let them know they are not alone no matter how bleak the future may seem. We don’t need to rehash the events or dig into the shooter’s past. We need to send our love and support so they know their loved ones did not die in vain. We need to remember the names of the victims, not the man responsible for these frightening deaths.
While many stories about what happened inside those classrooms are still untold, Kaitlin Roig’s story exemplifies the strength of these caring, dedicated teachers and their willingness to protect their students no matter the cost. Roig, who hid her students in the class bathroom, saved the lives of each child in her care. But, with the possibility of death looming ever so close, she made sure that every child knew she loved them very much. She wanted to be sure the last thing they heard was something comforting despite the horror right outside their room. Though this day will haunt all those involved for years to come, these children will also grow up knowing that goodness and love do exist. It’s these traits that will build a brighter future for our nation and the world.
(Image courtesy of The New York Times)