As Americans, the events of Friday morning in Newtown broke our hearts but as parents, it terrified us to our very core.
I had meetings in New York that day and therefore didn’t realize that any of it had happened until my train ride home. Seeing pictures of the families and grasping at the fragments of information trickling in, I had the same thought that every other parent did: how would those parents go on?
Choking back tears (many of us on the train were doing the same thing), the faces of Ben, Georgia and Quinn flashed through my mind. Posts from friends called for gun control, more funding for mental illness, and an urge to hug their children. While I certainly agreed with the first two, the only one I felt like I had control over was the last. And so that’s where I found myself…focused on love.
When Wayland High School senior Lauren Astley was murdered by her boyfriend last year, I remember being struck by her father’s reaction. Instead of demanding justice and lashing out at her killer, Malcom Astley showed compassion and called for healing. He reached out to the boy’s family and now talks to kids about dating violence in hopes of this never happening again. He let go of his anger and concentrated on love…and it inspired me.
Sitting on that train, I tried to make sense of it all and what I would do next. I knew that posting about being angry or sad wasn’t going to make me feel any better. I couldn’t bear to imagine what I would do if it were my child; it was just too frightening. I had no great advice to offer on how to talk to kids about this since I was just as unsure as everyone else.
Every time I thought about that school, I arrived at the same place: I couldn’t change what had happened so I would just wrap up my family in love.
Every parent will handle this differently. Some will advocate for change, some will get angry, and others will simply pray. And you know what? Not one of them is any better than the other.
I’m grateful for the people who will take action so that no other parent will ever know this kind of horror. I’m hopeful that all of the prayers will give those moms and dads peace at some point down the road. And I understand anyone who is just angry. I feel it too.
In the end though, I can only manage one emotion. I’m so lucky that my family is safe and healthy and I promise never to take that for granted. I’m hugging them a little tighter and saying “I love you” a whole lot more. It may not help the families in Newtown, but for me it’s the best way to make a difference.
And something tells me that if all of those parents out there are hugging more and yelling less – I have no doubt they are - then it may not make the world a safer place but it sure will be a better one.