The author of the following essay is a mother of three from the Chicago area. It was originally published on a private blog that chronicles the daily lives of her family. I have been given permission to publish it on the sites where I am a contributing writer. Since writing such as this, without expectation, can possibly go viral on the internet, it has been decided to publish it anonymously to protect the privacy of the family. The names of the children have been omitted. Otherwise, it is submitted as written. The perspective of this mother is one that is different from what I have read since the horrific events of last Friday. But I feel it is a reflection of the prevailing perspective of most of the people who have been suffering along with the devastated families of the victims.
Treasure, Protect and Mourn Them All -- Reflections on the Newtown Tragedy
One thing that will give a person perspective is someone else's misery. Although we have been careful to monitor media in our house and not speak about the recent events in Connecticut, obviously my husband and I have been disturbed and heartbroken about the elementary school children who were gunned down in Newtown. And although it would be painful to learn about this no matter who you are and what your station in life is, this feels particularly painful to us as parents of children who are right around the age of these precious little victims.
When I look at my first grader and her big blue eyes and imagine those eyes being closed forever....when I see my pre-schooler skipping around like her little fairy-elf self, barely touching the ground and imagine never hearing her laugh again...it just destroys me. If I couldn't hold my toddler close to me, as he clutches his blanket and sucks his thumb...I don't know that I could live another day myself. And yet there are parents today who are burying their children one week before Christmas. It hurts to think about it.
What I've found equally frustrating during this time, and it is just an observation really, is that amidst all the reaction, I don't hear people mourning the loss of children everywhere, everyday. Make no mistake, I believe with all my heart that what happened in Newtown was a shocking tragedy and I am mourning the loss of those beautiful children. But I find myself grieving for the children of the south side of Chicago too.
How many of them have been gunned down this school year? Where is the national mourning for these children? Of course there isn't any. Even within our city, we consume these news reports without blinking an eye. We can speculate on the reasons why this is the case. But I won't bother to here, because this isn't a political blog or a blog on social/cultural commentary. However, I have been thinking of the heartbreak that goes on daily for the parents of those children, caught in gang crossfire, and I grieve for them. And how about children all across the globe who live in fear of this sort of thing *every day*? No one expects children in Connecticut to be scared to go to school, thank God. But what about kids in Syria? Or how about child soldiers in Africa? The reality is that the world does a crappy job protecting our children. And every single one of them should be just as treasured and protected and mourned as the ones in Newtown.
I admit, the story has gotten under my skin enough that I've tried harder to stay patient with the kids when they've tested me over the past few days. And when my pre-schooler got ill on Saturday night and my husband stayed with her on the couch, I pulled my first-born into my room and had her sleep with me. All because I could not bear the feeling of being alone and having thoughts of those school children carry me into sleep. Although she was totally asleep when I went in her room, and she is heavy as a sack of concrete mix these days, I carried her into my room and curled my body around hers, reassuring myself that my daughter was alive and healthy and safe, and for at least tonight, we would be together as mother and child.
The risk of living is dying. I know we cannot live in fear and I thank God that we don't. I know I will lose my temper with the kids again. I know I will take them for granted again. We all do this. It's human. Actually, I am not sure how we could survive without this sort of behavior...after all, who could walk around and stay sane if they knew they had to protect a precious jewel every single day - a jewel that has its own thoughts, feelings, actions and plans? It would be impossible.
So we just do the best we can, we apologize when we screw up, we use opportunities like this tragedy to remind ourselves to treasure each moment we're given, and above all, try to love the best we can. It's a disgusting, broken world. I'm taking comfort that for those of us who believe, good always wins and God saves.