Its been three weeks since Sandy Hook. We’ve cried, mourned, been angry and started getting political. But life has picked up and moved on. America is now playing with their new toys and gadgets and are starting to put away the Christmas decorations. While the rest of us are moving on there are 26 families who are frozen in time. I can’t help but think about these parents who must find a way to continue with life. How in the world can they get out of bed in the morning, let alone send their other children to school? I think about this because every time I’m at Target I see Time magazine (or which ever magazine it is) with those 20 precious faces staring at me, daring me to think, what would I do, how would I carry on?
Have you seen this magazine in the check out line? How in the world did that phone call to those parents go? “Hi, this is editor for Check-Out-Line magazine. We’re so sorry for your loss but we would like permission to put your child’s picture on the cover of this month’s issue.” What the what?! If I look at it even for a moment my mind puts my own precious 8 year old’s face in the mix. The emotions start swelling and I have to turn away. I have to turn my emotions off because if I allow myself to think about it I would become a blubbering mess as I try to unload my grocery cart. Then I start feeling guilty for turning away. Tonight my babies will be snug in their beds, but those parents have empty beds in their houses. My life goes on as usual and theirs will never be the same and somehow that gives me a sense of hopelessness and helpless. Hopeless because that is my gut reaction to how I would feel if I lost one of my children in the way that they lost theirs. Helpless because I know those parents will go on suffering while the rest of us get to hug our kids when they come home from school today.
The Sunday after Sandy Hook was the baby dedication at our church. It’s always a precious time and I always get a little misty eyed. There is a congregational response in which we all say “As a congregation of God’s family, it is our sacred obligation and privilege, along with these parents, to enfold these children in our affection and continuing care…. We pledge to forgive them in error, and protect them from all that is evil and unjust…” When I said those last words, protect them from all that is evil and unjust, my voice caught in my throat and I nearly lost it. There is evil in this world and sometimes we can’t protect our babies from it and what in the hell am I supposed to do with that?
So what do we do now? I’m sorry to say that I’m at a loss and I wish I knew the answer. We will have to have difficult discussions about gun control and mental health services and security in schools and who knows what else. So we will continue loving our kids, cherishing them and leading a normal life. But what about those families that will never be the same? I suppose the rest of us will get back into our normal routines, the kids will drive us crazy, time will pass and Sandy Hook will start to fade in our memory. Just like Aurora and the shopping mall and Columbine. We can’t live our lives in a constant state of anxiety or we will just spin our wheels and cease to become productive, loving parents who produce anxious, high-strung children. Can we lead normal lives but still remember the parents that grieve? The best I can come up with is Grace says “yes”. Grace allows us to love our families and allow our hearts to break a little for those suffering loss. Maybe we can’t travel across the country to hug those parents and bring them a hot dish but maybe we can do that for someone right in our own communities. Someone is suffering right under our noses, we don’t have to look far. Rather than tell them about the love of Jesus what if we showed it. It’s something to think about.
How are you moving on?