An Open Letter:
To those of you who lost a child, family member, friend, loved one, or colleague on Friday – my heart breaks for you. I can’t help but think of how many parents rushed through their morning routine on Friday, gave their babies a quick goodbye, and headed off to their day, completely oblivious that time was going to stop for them in just a few hours. I can’t help but think of the teachers, who dedicated their lives to educating our future, who walked into school that morning worrying about their agenda for the day or their plans for the evening with no possible inclination of how they would be put to the test, no inclination that they weren’t going to survive the day. I think about the teachers who, even when they had to know they were going to die, spent their last moments trying to comfort and protect their children. I hope that they know, somehow and somewhere, that those of us left behind to mourn realize their heroism. I can’t help think of those poor, innocent children who went from dreaming of Santa Claus to having the monsters everyone promised them weren’t real come to life before their eyes.
For those parents whose baby will never open the gifts that are already wrapped and under the tree, my heart breaks for you. For the dads who will never walk their daughter down the aisle, for the moms who will never take a picture of their son dressed up for prom, for the sisters who will never have their big brother there to protect them, and for the brothers who will never steal their sister’s Barbies – my heart breaks for you. For the nurses that will never heal, for the teachers that will never teach, for the artists who will never create, and for the scientists that will never discover – my heart breaks for you. For the little ones who will never walk into school without fear, who will never again have a favorite teacher, who will never be completely innocent again, will never feel completely safe – my heart breaks for you. For the parents and teachers who are still trying to explain the unexplainable to children who shouldn’t have to understand – my heart breaks for you.
As a nation, we are all breaking. We’re breaking because our safety has been shattered – if this madness could happen to children, in such an innocent place – it could happen anywhere. We’re breaking because we can’t understand and we’re breaking because we feel helpless. This has to be the catalyst, in some way or another. I have to believe that our leaders, no matter how divided, can be united against this terror unfolding again in another town, on another day, to another child. To another community, to another mother, to another teacher, to another son. We have a problem with guns and we have a problem with lack of mental health options and there needs to be some serious discussions on what changes can actually be made; what changes may actually be efficient and help prevent such tragedy and loss in the future.
The problem is, we’re all wringing our hands in grief and outrage and terror, but what are we actually doing? There’s thousands of people like me saying the same thing, “We want change! Do something!” But we don’t know what to do, so we stay paralyzed, and then our hearts break all over again when something else happens, when someone else who never got the help they needed takes it out on the innocent. My hope is that this is the breaking point. We cannot let these children’s lives go unnoticed. We cannot let twenty futures go untold. Twenty. Twenty children who won’t get a visit from Santa, or the Tooth Fairy. Twenty children who will never take their worn teddy bears to college. Twenty babies who will never meet their soul mate, who will never play an instrument, who will never read the classics. Twenty kids who will never go to the zoo again, who will never ride a roller coaster, who will never get their drivers license. Twenty lives that will never happen. Nor can we let their teachers and educators who died trying to protect them, who spent their time and energy and love on these children, go unnoticed. These people cannot be forgotten.
How do we not forget them? We take a damn good look around. We take a nice, deep breath and stare at the stars. We call our brothers. We go meet our friends. We hug our parents. We laugh with our coworkers. We kiss our kids . We don’t take one more second for granted. And we never, ever stop short of saying “I love you,” to those that matter. We don’t hold back. We love hard. We laugh until we cry. And every time we do, we take one extra second and remember those who won’t ever get the chance, and we thank every star in the sky that we can.
Our hearts are with you, Newtown. This time, we won’t forget. May you all rest in peace.