But today, I have a heavy heart over yesterday's events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Since hearing about it after school from one of the janitors, I haven't been able to get it off my mind. How someone could kill their mother, then 6 other adults and 20 children at an elementary school is just unfathomable. I have been praying incessantly for that area and all those affected since then.
As a teacher, this hits so close to home as I think about what I would do in those situations. It also hits close to home as I was at Virginia Tech in April 2007 when another unimaginable tragedy like this occurred. Having class in the next building over, I witnessed many of the survivors escaping the building, and many of the injured and dead being taken away by ambulance.
Whenever I hear about things like this (which is unfortunately often now, it seems), I flash back to that day and how my university was affected by the death of 32. A friend of mind on Facebook posted this, and it really made me think:
"As tough as it was to be 19 and try to fathom what had happened to my friends and school I can't imagine what it is like for a 5 year old... Praying for all those babies and their parents .."
Re-reading this just brings me to tears. At 25, I still can't understand what happened that day in April, and I still deal with the horrible memories of what I saw. I cannot imagine being an elementary school aged child and being this scared and devastated. I cannot imagine having to witness something like this at the age of 5 or 6. I could not imagine being a parent of one of these children and having to explain to their son or daughter that their best friend won't be able to come over anymore.
I saw this image on the Washington Post article, and it just really broke my heart:
After the VT shooting, I had to run from the building I was in to another since they thought another shooter was on the loose. This picture reminded me of that and how scared and confused and upset I was at that time. These children don't deserve that, and knowing that they have to deal with this just brings me to tears.
I would never, ever wish the pain my university had to deal with upon anyone in this world, much less these innocent children who haven't done anything to hurt another soul so deeply. These people in that community need our prayers more than I can even understand. We need to pray for the families of these children, that they would be able to find the words to say to comfort their child and make them feel safe. We need to pray for the families who didn't know that last Christmas was the last they'd spend with their precious son or daughter. We need to pray for the teachers, administrators, and other adults in the lives of this school that will be dealing with their pain while helping their children cope, as well.
As weird as this sounds, we need to pray for the family of the shooter. They will going through unimaginable emotions after losing a wife/mother/daughter/sister, but also dealing with the fact that their brother/son/nephew/grandson brought this tragedy upon their community. We also need to pray for others out there who contemplate committing tragedies like this, that they would think of how their last act on earth may effect hundreds to thousands of people forever.
My thoughts and prayers will be in Connecticut today and beyond. I hope you will join me in lifting them up so that we can try to help them through this horrible event.