I don’t know about everyone else, but every year it gets harder and harder to get into the holiday spirit. Our family has been shrinking, the kids getting older, and I find myself not so festive each year. In fact, the holidays often bring along stress that I could do without. But this year I am finding it impossible to feel any joy. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I see the victims of Sandy, who are homeless and still haven’t received any money and struggling for answers from the government and dealing with bureaucratic red tape. I wonder how their holidays are going to be celebrated after so many lost everything they owned in that storm.
And now, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the recent shootings at Sandy Hook are all I can think about. Senseless killings of the most innocent souls. Twenty beautiful children, six loving and dedicated teachers all gone. Funerals and burials day after day. Each one of the victims having a profound ripple effect of sadness from their immediate families to their friends, to their community, the state of Connecticut, to our nation, and to the world. All of humanity has been affected and grieves for these losses because there, but for the grace of God, go we all. These random acts of violence can occur any place, any time without warning. They say we can’t live our lives in fear, but when you have children almost all parents do. Once we have to start letting go and can’t be with them 24/7, we start to have all kinds of fears. We don’t want any harm to come to them. Tragedies like this one, only proves how vulnerable our children are, how dangerous the world is, and validates that we have good reason to be afraid. These thoughts keep running through my head as the number of incident of violence increases.
I worry about these 20 sets of parents, grandparents, siblings, the survivors. How long does one grieve and mourn the death of a six year old who went to school happy and never came home? The grief and pain is unbearable. How does one get over thinking about the last minutes of their young lives, were they terrorized, did they suffer? When do they stop torturing themselves asking “why?” did this happen? When can you look at their pictures without crying? What do you do with the Christmas presents that have been bought and not even wrapped? There are so many things I wonder about, even as I can only just imagine the depth of pain these people must be feeling.
Every time they show the face of one of the children that was lost, I picture my own children at that age. I try to place myself in their parents shoes, worrying all day for news of their children, only to learn that they were gone. I just can’t do it. The loss of a child has to be the worst news any parent can ever get and in this case to be taken to the extreme by this set of circumstances. There are no words of comfort for these families. No way to rebuild or replace what was taken from them. The losses in Sandy Hook infinitely exceed the gravity and devastation caused by storm Sandy.
So my heart is heavy and it aches for those whose hearts will forever be broken. I will push myself to cook the holiday dinners and wrap the presents and try to carry on as I normally would. But, my thoughts and prayers, my heart and soul will be with those who won’t be celebrating and part of me will be grieving with them.
This morning I was thinking how little anyone can do to help in this situation. I know I want to do something to honor the memory of these children. Then, as I thought about it, I thought about St. Jude’s Hospital. I have always been so impressed with their policy of never turning away a child and not charging money to those who can’t afford to pay. They save children’s lives there every day. For those who can’t be saved, they offer hope and comfort to their families and make their children’s final days and weeks happy ones. So, I decided that our family will make a donation to St. Jude. It won’t bring back the children lost at Sandy Hook, but it will help another child from dying.