and cut me over and over is something that I know intimately, but I realized today that though I know it, I only know a little piece of it. I have tried to imagine, even while I know I cannot fathom such an atrocity; losing a child. Then to realize that not only have I lost my child, but that nineteen other children were lost at the same time is immeasurable. I find that each time I think of such a horror, I burst out in tears for those who are facing that situation even now. Knowing that the world is mourning my loss would be of little or no consolation when faced with an empty bed in an empty room in an empty house in a now empty life. Knowing that there were nineteen different families who found themselves in the situation I was in would bring no comfort, only more bafflement, anger and grief. I think I would find it hard not to be bitter even as I was grateful, that there are parents everywhere holding their children safe this night. There are no words, no gestures, no deeds of goodwill that can even begin to bring comfort after such a senseless and brutal death of a child. No human words or gestures, anyway. Losing a child is losing a child, be it from sickness after months of hope and prayers or because that child is taken by the hands of a madman, a stranger, who decided to gun them down in cold blood for sins that the children had not committed. The little children are innocents and because of it, the battle becomes not one against nature or sickness, but of one against evil. It doesn’t make the loss any less painful, but it does make it different.
I have spent the better part of the evening trying to wrap my mind around what a relatively small, close-knit community must be feeling at this moment. I have not succeeded. Each time I picture in my mind’s eye the tiny bodies lying shot to death, I have to remind myself that I live in a country where young children are not gunned down as they attend kindergarten class. I tell myself that surely, there has been some mistake and that twenty children were not killed for a reason known only to a madman. I tell myself that it couldn’t possibly happen where I live and then immediately seek out my nieces and hug them so hard that they complain about it. I find that I cannot let them go. They squirm and complain, but letting them out my arms before I have breathed in the scent of them, touched their sweet little lips to mine and stroked their downy hair is not an option, not for a while, not until I am convinced that they are real and safe and accounted for. Something that twenty families in a small town in Connecticut will never have the opportunity to do again. The sorrow and pain that I feel is no more than a drop of rain in a writhing ocean compared to theirs and that in itself makes me cry even harder. I want to help. I want to console. I want to encourage. I want to bring comfort. But it is not in my power.
I cannot comfort them with words or gestures. Their lives have been irrevocably changed for the worse. What likely started as a normal day for these families ended in bone-crushing sorrow and depths of despair that cannot be described within the confines of this blog. The cries and screams of mothers and fathers will echo down every valley and soar above the highest mountains for days and weeks and years to come. Such sorrow cannot be contained and even though I did not hear them with my ears, my heart breaks at the sound I know is there and I find myself sobbing, yet again, for what cannot be changed.
I will do the only thing I know to do for them and that is to pray for comfort in a time of sorrow so black and so deep, an abyss that seems to have no way out. Time, it is said, is a great healer, and from personal experience, I know that to be true … but time has never had to heal me from the loss of a child and I find that while I have compassion and a deep, deep sorrow for the loss, I cannot even begin to comprehend it.
Lifting up, in the name of Jesus, those who will be unable to stand for a long time is the only recourse I have. But stand they will and fight they will and remember they will. The road will be difficult and strewn with landmines and obstacles that will take them backwards more than forwards; at least for a time. They will never get over it, may not get past it, but hopefully, can one day, come to terms with it enough to get out of bed in the morning.
This night, as the nation and the world mourns the needless loss of little children, may we join together and pray collectively so that a veil of protection can be woven around the grieving families. Let us tear our clothing and throw ourselves to the ground to wail for that which threatens to suffocate us. They have suffered enough for a lifetime. Let us pray that that they can face it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.
The little children are in the hands of God, but the hands of their parents are empty and their hearts are shattered. Join me as I pray that they will be able to find some measure of comfort in some aspect of this tragedy and that in time, the memories that hurt them so deeply now will somehow bring them the comfort they seek. I don’t know what else to do.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.