As I listen to my daughter singing enthusiastically in my kitchen, I am thankful for her innocence, for her enthusiasm, for her very existence. And my heart is heavy. Because I know that in a State far from where I live, there is a woman (indeed many women) just like me - a mother, a wife, a good person, who will never hear the angelic voice of their child again. She hugged her goodbye this morning, not knowing that there would be no return home later this day. It is a nightmare. She is broken. The pieces will be put back together eventually, but they will never, ever, fit in the same way again. And I weep for her. I weep for her daughter. I weep for Newtown.
I do not understand why. I cannot imagine why. It is senseless. It is horrific. It claws at my heart and makes it bleed, and releases within me an anger that scares me. I want to rail and scream at this man who chose to do this. I want to rip the very fibre of his being from him and wail at his soul, WHY?
I take a step back. I listen to what my heart is telling me. I wonder.
I know somebody did. I guarantee somebody did. Someone always does. It is documented time and time again. There were warnings. There were signs. There were indications that in retrospect will mean much. There are people close to the situation who will live with the guilt of knowing something was going to happen, but were unable, for various reasons, to stop it. I guarantee this 'person' did not just wake up this morning and decide to go on a shooting spree. He'd been thinking about it. For days. Possibly weeks. It was planned. And somebody knew.
And my questions are these. Why, as a society, are we so ill equipped to deal with the red flags? The warning signs? The threats - veiled or otherwise? Is it because we don't know what to do? Because we are so detached from one another that we fail to recognize when someone is falling into crisis? Why do we stand, idly by, and watch - and make no mistake - judge, as someone descends into a madness that defies description? Why do we look at those living with mental illness with disdain or disbelief instead of compassion and understanding?
I look at these questions, and I feel uncomfortable. I can think of times where I've watched and failed to take action because I didn't know what to do. Because I didn't want to get involved. Because I didn't want to believe what was happening was real. I have been complicit. And I know I am not alone. And my heart aches with this realization.
What needs to happen in order for our Mental Health supports to be strengthened? To be structured in a way that will provide the necessary support and assistance when a person is known to be in crisis? What needs to happen for law enforcement and mental health to work together to prevent similar tragedy's from occurring in the future - and let me be clear - this WILL happen again. And again. Until we get it.
What needs to happen within our communities that will enable us to walk with the troubled rather than judge them? When will we stop requiring people to walk around with figurative masks - covering their wounds, hurts, and struggles, so they may in some way shape or form be accepted by others? What do we need to do, as parents - as mentors, to ensure that youth in our community feel safe enough to come forward and ask for help when they so desperately need it? How do we keep them connected?
Yes, we can say that violent video games are the cause. Or certain types of music that glorify rage and killing. We can say that gun control is the answer. We can bemoan the fact that some people are just f'd up. It's a cop out. And a deflection of responsibility.
Cause guess what? Kids play a lot of violent video games - not all of them go on to kill people.
There are individuals who obsessively listen to music that promotes violence and rage. They don't all go on to kill people.
There are some f'd up people in this world. There is no denying this. How many of them wouldn't be f'd up if we would take the time to help them? If there were appropriate and accessible supports available to them and their families in times of trouble? Instead of being shuffled to this department, and that department, all the while ostracized by their peers and community - what would happen if they were understood and provided with the assistance they so desperately need? Would it make a difference?
What I know is this. There were too many innocent victims today. Too many families torn apart by this senseless tragedy. Children who should be celebrating the upcoming holidays will be trying to make sense of why their friends are dead. Children in schools all over will struggle to understand how something like this could happen.
Some will persevere and move forward. Others will not. And we need to be concerned. For the children and families in Newtown. For the children and families in our own communities. Because it can happen here, too.
There have been enough casualties already - as a community, let us gather our children close. Let us listen. Let us be open. Let us be able and willing to help when they ask. Let us look deep into their eyes and be open to what we see. If we see pain, let us talk about it. If we see fear, let us stand protect them. If we see a child's constant failure to fit in, to be accepted - let us step up to the plate and be a mentor. A friend. Someone who cares. Someone who will keep them safe. And if we can't, let us take the time to find someone who can.
It starts with us.
On behalf of my family, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the community of Newtown, and the hundreds of families affected by today's violence. You are in our thoughts and prayers.