I just want to forewarn you before you read this that this is going to be a heavy post. The entire nation is aware of the tragedy that took place here in Connecticut yesterday. I am writing this with a heavy heart which is breaking for my neighboring community who has lost so much.
Five miles is not a great distance. Many people run five miles a day to stay in shape. It’s no problem to venture five miles to a favorite restaurant or shopping center….it’s only five miles. It is also proven that most accidents occur five miles from home. What happened in Newtown yesterday occurred five miles from my home, but this was no accident. This was the most atrocious act of violence I have ever heard of and it has shaken me to the core. It was a mere five miles that separated me from my worst nightmare. A nightmare that came true for so many yesterday.
I cannot begin to imagine what the families who have lost loved ones…children…yesterday are going through. Their grief is truly unimaginable. I can only tell you what I felt when I got “The call”.
I was on my last paragraph of a post about handmade wrapping paper. I had shut down Facebook, pinterest, and my email accounts to eliminate ALL distractions. My son’s school hotline came across my iPhone screen at the same time as a text message from my mother that read: “School Shooting…turn on the news and pray!”
I am not a religious woman but I did what she said as I answered the phone with bated breath hoping and praying “please God don’t let it be Jack’s school!” The automated message quelled my fears by informing me that it was not my son’s school but they were on lockdown and no one would be allowed in or out. I wanted to rush down there and pick him up but the authorities advised all parents NOT to do that. I flipped on the news and began to pray for the children and faculty at Sandy Hook elementary school.
I watched as the police, FBI, and ATF agents swarmed the building. There were canine units searching the woods and surrounding areas. This put me in a panic as I wondered is the shooter on the loose? Will he make the five-mile trek to my son’s school? His friend’s schools? It’s only five miles away.
I usually do not watch the news. When 911 happened I did not turn on the TV for months. Yesterday, I could not stop watching the news. I watched and I waited as panicked parents were reunited with their children. I watched as a teacher was wheeled out on a stretcher. She seemed ok and there were no screaming ambulances.
This gave me a sense of relief and I thought maybe it was just a kid who brought a gun to school that accidentally went off and this teacher was the only victim with only minor injuries. If there was a real crisis where many were wounded there would be ambulances. Where were the ambulances? Where were the sirens? The lights? This must mean that everyone is ok…all the children are ok right? These are the things I told myself. I tried to lie to myself that these things were true but as time passed I knew in my heart that things were far from ok. So very far from ok.
The crowd began to disperse. The news crews were moved to an off site location. The ATF and FBI returned to their vehicles. The parents who were reunited with their children brought them home to hug them tight. Things seemed to be calming down but yet there were families still waiting for their children. Where are they? I thought. Where are their kids? Where are the ambulances?
I knew when our Governor arrived and did not first speak to the press the reason there were no sirens, no lights, no ambulances. I knew that these families were waiting for a reunion that would never happen here on earth. There were no ambulances because the children were gone.
It’s hard to even type those words…Children and gone…in the same sentence. It’s even harder because I’m not talking about some far off place. I’m talking about my neighboring community. A community where I have worked. A community where I have friends. A community where my son has gone to birthday parties, tumbling classes, and Sunday school.
When I heard the squealing brakes of the school bus I dropped everything and ran outside. I usually just open the door and tell him to hurry up because it’s cold. Yesterday I ran. I ran and grabbed him in a huge hug. My neighbors were all running to. We were all running with heavy hearts and choking back tears. We were thankful that our kids were home and we had them with us. The thankfulness was marred by knowing that so many neighbors and friends would never have a chance to hug their kids again.
When I grabbed my son in a big bear hug I was holding back a well of tears that wanted to overflow. I asked him how his day was with a quaking voice and he said, “It was good, but why are you so happy?” I said “I’m just happy to see you!”
I have never been so happy and sad at the same time. I am so happy that my son is with me, yet my heart is broken by the fact that so many have had their sons and daughters taken from them.
This goes without saying but please keep these little lives and the families they were taken from close to your hearts and continually in your prayers. Please pray for my neighboring community of Newtown, Connecticut. Pray for healing, peace and comfort. Please pray for Newtown.