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.