Saying Goodbye To Angels
On December 14, 2012 there was a deadly shooting in Newton, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Social media was flooded with opinions on gun control, mental illness, family, school safety, and of course expressions of grief. One of the sentiments I heard often in those days, and was even expressed by US President Barack Obama, was that of "feeling the pain like only a parent could". I'll be honest. Hearing that irritated me. Now that we've all had some distance from the event, let me explain.
In my second year of University, I came in from class and turned on the tv to see students running for their lives at Columbine. I literally dropped to my knees and wept. On September 11, I got out of bed and turned on the tv just as a plane flew in to the second tower. I dropped to my knees and wept. Tragedies never cease in this world, and so on December 14, 2012 when I heard via social media about the Sandy Hook shooting, my heart once again shattered for all involved. A parent this time around, I held Levi a little closer while he nursed that morning. But the pain I felt was the same as when I heard about Columbine and 9/11. Being a parent didn't change my response, or give me an inside edge on pain. Every time I heard someone express that they were feeling pain like only a parent could, I immediately thought of my wonderful, compassionate, friends who do not have children. Did I honestly believe that the pain they felt over this tragedy was somehow less than what I felt as a parent? Not for one second. I believe the pain we feel over tragedy has little to do with whether we are parents, and everything to do with being human.
This post has been percolating for months, and I had almost forgotten about it. Until I realized that today marks two years since a tiny baby girl flew away into the arms of angels. The grief her parents experienced is unimaginable,and it was my deepest privilege to keep vigil over her small body while her parents prepared to hold her and say their goodbyes. The pain of grief - whether it be individual & personal, or corporate & public - is deep and searing. Andwhile pain always tears us apart to some degree, it is also what can draw us together. Perhaps we would all be better served standing together through pain and tragedy - say good-bye to the little angels, and carry on in love.
A song for today....