Opinion > Star Staff
Picking up the pieces in right order
Our collective hearts broke on Friday, Dec. 14, when we received news that a young man had forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders.
As they were gearing up for Christmas or celebrating the seventh night of Hanukkah, countless families across the nation were mourning these deaths and praying over the loss of innocence in the survivors.
In a press conference that afternoon, President Obama said, "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."
Truer words were never spoken.
I'm a mom to an 11-year-old boy, and I'm fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule that allows me to take him to school every morning. Until last Friday, we followed the same routine Monday through Friday: When we pull up to the curb, I kiss his cheek, tell him to have a great day, and I tell him that I love him. When I lose sight of him behind portable classrooms, I pull away from the curb knowing that he's in a safe place; a haven where he's protected by the school's security measures, as well as countless educators, administrators and other staff. He's in a place where his only worry is what he will make for the science fair. He's in a place where he will be given the skills and knowledge that he will take with him into adulthood.
Until last Friday.
While I still have confidence in the school regarding my son's protection, I now hug him a little tighter and love him a little more. I still tell him to have a great day, but now those words have taken on a different meaning; the images of little children crying, confused and covering their eyes have been burned into my mind where they will stay forever.
So where do we go from here?
I don't mind admitting my first instinct was to learn how I could homeschool while still keeping a full-time job. While the schedule is flexible at the newspaper, the hours can be long, so that's not an option for me.
Once we made sure our own children were safe at the moment we heard the news, we then started asking, "Why?" and "How do we keep this from ever happening again?"
There are too many difficult and sensitive questions with no solid answers.
As opposing parties debate religion, gun reform and mental health on various social platforms, we are also hopefully praying and crying for the parents whose children won't make it to second grade. We're asking ourselves if we are leaving our own children in a safe place for those eight hours, five days a week.
As for me, I will hug my baby and tell him that I love him and that I hope he has a great day. Because, God forbid, if everything isn't okay, then I will be the one he hears.
For those looking for reform in some fashion, let your voice be heard, but don't forget why your words need to be said.
Those 20 children are not political tools. They are innocents who were torn away from this world too soon, and each of those 20 children and six adults deserves the respect to be mourned before they become poster children for any political motive.
Liz McGathey is the deputy managing editor for Star Local News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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