Sunday, May 25, 2014

Not Again




I stood in the bagel store this perfectly sunny Sunday morning, as I do every weekend in Newtown, Connecticut.  The line of customers was so long that it drifted out the front door next to the table where the Veterans were collecting donations and giving out little red poppies for Memorial Day.  People were chatting, my mind was contemplating all the gardening chores I need to do, and suddenly on the little TV above the coffee maker, there was a news story about the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Santa Barbara Friday night, killing six college students, wounding 13 others and committing suicide. All conversation stopped.  The YouTube video that the killer made played loudly, spewing hatred from the mouth of a very ordinary looking young white man. Everyone was riveted, eyes on the TV.

I didn’t want to be there watching this. I had not planned on writing on my blog today. Here we go again -- all the memories that I have of standing in this line in this same bagel store, a genuine safe haven for many of us who live here, on the morning after Adam Lanza shot 20 students and 6 teachers in our quiet little community just slammed and broadsided me one more time.  Looking at the faces of the folks standing next to me, I’d have to say that we all were in the same boat.  There will be no “normal” in Newtown ever again.

At home, I hugged my daughter who is getting ready to go off to college, feeling the pain that there are six other families who won’t be able to ever hug their college kids again. My heart is breaking for the people of Santa Barbara and those who lost their loved ones. My child didn’t want to talk about it, but I forced her to sit and listen to my lecture about always having her radar on when she’s away at school, even though it might seem like the safest place on earth to her.  “Mom, no place is safe anymore.” She told me, “You just have to be aware all the time, no matter where you are.”

Good answer, but I’m not satisfied. In fact, I’m alarmed, outraged and frightened. When are we going to wake up to the reality that our children are killing each other and themselves?  It doesn’t matter where they live or what race, color,  religion or creed they are – Our kids are in tremendous pain, and we stand there like zombies staring at the TV screen as one murder after another destroys beautiful promising young lives and loving families.

Don’t tell me that there’s nothing we can do to stop this. Talk to each other, talk to your children.  Start right now by hugging your kid.

6 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

The videos he posted were so cocky and sick. And to think he posted them before he did this. I can't imagine the impact it has had on your community. Did his family even know him?

Victoria Cummings said...

Lori - His mom called the police last month and they saw him and decided there was no cause for concern. There is such an enormous denial in our country about the problem of mental and behavioral health. It's pervasive in the schools, the police and our entire communities. We must start talking about it instead of ignoring it.

Rachel B said...

I think your last paragraph is everything - that we all need to start talking to each other instead of letting our fears keep community from happening. I'm hugging my little one now as I read this. Great post.

Annette Mickelson said...

I've been following this story closely. My nephew went to UCSB and we have family in the area. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video. Reading a few quotes was more than enough to make my blood stop. So so frightening. Hugs to your daughter (and mine who is in college). And hugs to you too.

Victoria Cummings said...

Rachel and Annette - Thanks - More conversation, more hugs, more compassion and more attention in Congress that leads to constructive, realistic action.

C-ingspots said...

I haven't seen the videos, just saw the news story. Chilling that this is happening with such frequency, and that as a society, we're becoming more accustomed to tragic violence. I'm not sure what we can do "politically", with laws and such, because this is a bigger issue than that. I agree that the change needed begins with each one of us, you and me, at home, with our families. God help us...