If you are a parent, or a grandparent, if you know a child, or a person who works with children, you could not help but be deeply affected by the tragic events of this past Friday.
How do we explain this sort of a tragedy? How can we possibly comprehend it?
We understand, at least academically, that there are people in this world who are mentally ill.
We understand there are those whose minds do not work the same as a ‘normal’ person’s, as yours or mine. We know they are sick, and that for whatever reason, their sickness has gone uncured and untreated and perhaps even undetected.
Although I am a Canadian and my history and my precedents are different than those of my neighbors to the south, I still understand the principle behind the U. S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. I understand that this Second Amendment is sacred, and taken as literally as if it were a part of scripture by many people. I understand that and I respect that.
But as a parent, as a grandparent, I say, there has to be a way to mesh those rights with laws that will protect innocents from the illegal, immoral and lethal acts of other people. There has to be a way to protect the rights of the many while ensuring the few do not have access to weapons, especially weapons that were only designed to kill a lot of people in a few seconds.
There has to be a way to protect our children. For they are all, every single one of them, our children.
There has to be a solution to this problem so that future generations will only know of such horrific tragedies by reading about them in their history books.
Consider all that humanity has accomplished in just the last century alone. We have put a man on the moon, and even successfully conducted heart transplant surgeries, for God’s sake! We should be able to solve this—this problem of our own making.
The loss of a child, no matter how it happens, no matter the age of the child, is a loss too horrible, too hard, to bear. It is a loss from which no parent ever fully recovers. Losing your child is something you never, ever get over. There is a hole in your heart that never closes, and an entire chapter in your imagination, entitled “what might have been” that can never be written, or known—and yet it’s a chapter that can never be closed up and put away.
Such a loss is undoubtedly more tragic when the child is still small. I remember my own kids at those ages: actually my eldest was 10, my second son 5 and my daughter was 4 all in the same year.
Those are years of wonder, years of learning to read, of making friends, of beginning to participate in sleep-overs. They are years of cartoons and best friends and singing along with your favorite songs on you tube. They are years of writing letters to Santa, and getting excited because Christmas is just around the corner.
For each parent who is now in mourning, my heart breaks. There are no words we can offer you to make it better. We can only pray. We can pray that you receive strength and hope from the Comforter, and that in time your memories will be more sweet than bitter.
We can’t do anything to heal your heart. Only God, and time, can do that, and only to a certain degree. As I said, that hole will be there, forever.
But the day will come when there is more joy in remembering than there is sorrow. And maybe, if we can all work together, if we can be open and honest and leave politics and hyperbole behind, we can find a way to prevent some of these tragedies from ever happening in the first place.
Maybe we can give you, and ourselves, and the society in which we live, the gift of hope.