I have a heavy heart today. Yesterday’s senseless tragedy has me speechless. We were out late last night helping with wedding preparations for dear friends of ours. After returning home, I fell into bed knowing that I only had about four hours of sleep ahead of me before we had to start the final stage of preparations. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was how there were parents, somewhere in Newtown, Connecticut, who were also wide awake in the middle of the night, aching to be able to have their child back home in their beds.
Where they belong.
I was thinking about the families of the staff members who lost their lives trying to protect those children who should be spending the weekend together preparing for Christmas.
Or perhaps a wedding.
The high school that my three daughters attended was once the scene of a horrific school shooting and because of that, it is now surrounded by intrusive, but necessary, black wrought iron fencing. And because of that, I am not immune to the fear.
The school they attended isn’t an urban school where the stereotypical fear once resided. Their school is in a suburban setting among pristine mountains and rivers.
It didn’t matter then.
It didn’t matter yesterday.
And because of what our community endured, I have almost daily thought about Joey’s safety when I drop him off at school in the morning. If even for a second. Sometimes it is the front wall of glass windows that makes me wonder. Sometimes it is worrying about the classrooms that are upstairs. Sometimes it is a fleeting moment of concern for Kathy, our school secretary who is the first person to receive visitors.
Even with our high school being victim to such craziness, I have always been able to dismiss the thought and go about my day.
Gut wrenching. Heartbreaking. Sickening.
My daughter and I were shopping on Tuesday outside of Portland, not too far from where the shooting took place at Clackamas Town Center. Later that day, before the shooting, we moved on to a local mall. While walking towards the food court, we saw a 20-something year-old dressed in all black from head to toe, with his sweatshirt hood tightened around his face and a full backpack on his back.
“That’s creepy” Cassidy said.
My reply? “I know. Keep your eye on him.”
How insanely wrong is that?! Cassidy shouldn’t have to feel that way. I shouldn’t have to respond that way.
We shouldn’t have even noticed him.
But one hour later, our reactions to him were validated by the shooting that took place in a similar food court not too far from where we had just been earlier that day.
Where my sister and niece were about to go until they realized they had to pick up her daughter from preschool.
And a few days later, Newtown.
I don’t have any answers and I’m sure my opinions on the topic differ from many, but we all share the same heartfelt demand: