The heaviness in the heart can crush a person into hopelessness. When I see poems, graphics, blogs, and gun control petitions online, I know that people are trying to do something, make things better, say that enough is enough.
Along with millions of others who watched the media coverage on the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary I share a heavy heart with thousands of others who posted their reactions on their blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
Watching the waiting, the tears, and reporters everywhere brought up years old feelings. It took me back to a shooting in my home town, at the state office where my mother and a relative worked.
It was a day like any other, and I was at work. When I passed the Watch Commander’s office, I overheard some talk about a shooting at a local government building, the office where my mother worked.
I ran to my office, grabbed my car keys and tried to get through the two locked doors to the parking lot. The WC grabbed at my arm, tried to tell me not to go, or at least let someone drive me to the next city over. With a growl I insisted that he buzz open the doors.
A throng of people packed the back parking lot of the state office. One hears all the whispers, “I hear one employee was shot…three…” You are there in a crowd, alone in your thoughts, almost at a panic. You work your way to the front, using your peace officer badge that you’re not supposed to use, but you need to know what happened. Now. Police officers hold you back, they don’t know much more, but they patiently tell you what they know. They try to get all the spouses, relatives, and children of the employees in one area.
Minutes tick by, police walk out of the building, one is wiping tears-a police officer who gave chase after the suspect was killed. You hear a bloodcurdling scream from inside the building. A spouse has identified her husband. People are crying, waiting for word about their loved ones, wondering if they will scream too.
Media reporters thrust microphones into faces. I bat one away and see a relative near the building. My mother is safe, the perpetrator was killed she says. Several long minutes later, my mother appears. Days pass.Bits and pieces of what my mother saw, heard, did are verbalized. Years later, my mother does not feel safe, but she made progress through counseling.
During the television coverage I went over to where my mother is staying. She was watching the coverage. I could see she had been crying. We hugged for a long time.
Years later, every mass shooting brings the violence and irrationality of it all back for my mother and everyone of the employees, families and friends of those killed and injured several years ago. It brings it back to those in every similar situation. And it will for years.
We may never know why a person commits horrible crimes. But, because we can’t explain the WHY? doesn’t mean we can’t do something to help prevent similar actions.
We can try to understand the mental health system and the many breakdowns in the system, such as described by this mother, Liza Long, in “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”.
The reasons to the Why? are complex, but not impossible to prevent another tragedy. In my own small world, the ” do something” has been signing this petition asking President Obama and Congress to support legislation on the issue of gun control, such as that introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband in a mass shooting in 1993, and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislation.
- Help Newtown, CT victim families and their community
- Support counseling efforts
- Read suggestions on how to talk to your kids: Tips from Save the Children organization
- Resources on how to help children cope
- Coping strategies for parents, caregivers of mentally ill children- NAMI
It may be several days before we know the Why? of this violence. For today, we can pray, we can petition, we can look for hope.