I don’t want to talk about it. Can’t I just write about Christmas? Or the end of the world? I had some really witty lines about being out of time and the holiday to-do lists that the zombies would find. I don’t want to talk about it, but I know that I have to… This week writing about anything other than the Sandy Hook Massacre would be disrespectful.
Right now everyone knows. On Friday December 14th, 2012 Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother then drove to an elementary school and took 26 more lives, most of them less than 8 years old. What everyone doesn’t know is why. The last life he took was his own. We can’t even ask him.
It is instinct in times like this to hold our children more tightly and remind them that they are loved. We stop, listen and interact with them on a level a bit deeper than we did the day before. We soften the message with hugs and kisses, but what we are telling them is that if they were gone tomorrow, the hole left behind would be unimaginable.
My children include a two year old deep in the stage of “Why?” She asks the question incessantly. “Why?” is daddy going to work. “Why?” can’t she have another cookie. “Why?” does she have to let the kitten go when she is holding her upside down by paw and tail. Each explanation is met with a follow up question; another round of “why?”
This week I have realized how much she reflects us in the face of tragedy. “Why did he do it?” “Why didn’t someone see the signs?” “Why did he have access to so much weaponry?” “Why hasn’t he/we/them/us/they/you/she/me done something to prevent things like this?” Each attempt at an answer brings forward another round of “why?”
We try our best to answer the questions. “Why?” is so simple yet to answer it honestly the explanation must be complex; sometimes so complex we cannot fully comprehend. We grab for any explanation that makes sense. How do you comprehend the incomprehensible?
My daughter’s incessant questioning only ceases when she reaches an answer that suits her. Here too she a reflection of us. We settle on explanations that fit our world view: gun control, mental health care, school security, parenting, religion, video games, the list goes on. No matter how woefully incomplete our personal explanations may be, we hold tight to them. Action can only happen when we have an explanation and we need to take action now.
I hope that we can and will take meaningful action to prevent anything like this happening again, but in order to do so we must come to some agreement on the causes. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if we stop the conversation with an authoritarian “Because” we will never get there. We must stop, listen and interact with each other on a level a bit deeper than we did the day before this tragedy. To do anything other would be disrespectful.
I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…