I advise you not to read this. No good can come from it. It's about today's shootings in Connecticut, and I have no words of comfort or hope.
The pain of losing a child is unimaginable to those who haven't experienced it. I have experienced it, but I haven't shared the experience of the parents of those school children. I read once that one sometimes encounters a nasty competition in grief support groups such as Compassionate Friends. Parents who have lost a young child might say their grief is more acute than other parents' because their child was small and innocent. The other parents might counter by saying they'd forged a bond with the older child that could never be achieved with a younger one; therefore, their grief was more profound.
I stayed away from those support groups. I believe without a doubt that every age brings its own pain. But there's something that can add to it. My daughter's death was sudden and unexpected, yet I'd had two years of fear beforehand. I remember my older daughter saying that day, "What must it be like for families who had no warning?" Well, 20 of those families know what that's like tonight.
Not only did they have no warning, but they sent their children there themselves, to what they thought was a safe place. For years I was haunted by the knowledge that my Jill died on my watch. So what if she was 25? It was my watch. It's always a mother's watch. From the time they're born, our mission is to keep them safe. If the ultimate lapse in safety occurs, we know who's responsible.
I can think of something else that adds to the magnitude of grief. It's hard to imagine anything that can make the most painful loss in the world even worse, but Christmas does that. If it were an elderly person who died around the holidays (and for whatever reason, many do), we'd think, Oh, that's sad. Their family will think of this every Christmas from now on. But these were little children! Christmas and children have been knitted together forever. It's not just their future absences, it's that we know they were excited about Christmas. Christmas was coming! It was only 11 days away. I remember my first child saying, close to Christmas, "It's fun to be happy!" Yes, it is. Those 20 children should be safe in their beds tonight, storing up enough energy to be brimming with happiness tomorrow. Their parents have presents for them, probably wrapped, possibly under the tree.
This line of thinking becomes unbearable.
Shit. I told you not to read this. To those of you who did, to the sweet children, to their parents who will never be the same, I'm sorry. I'm so damned sorry.