Twenty-six times the bells tolled today (Friday), marking a moment of silence that descended on Newtown, Conn., and many other communities across the country to mark one week since the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary school... From white-steeple churches in the cold and beautiful Georgia countryside to the majestic St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, as well as here in Norcross, GA the bells began at 9:30 a.m. (The same time last Friday that gunman began the rampage.) There was one ring for each of the 20 first-graders and six staff members killed by high-powered rifle fire.
The simple, somber remembrance, which was called for by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and seized upon by religious and government leaders from coast to coast, was at once heart-breaking and healing for many involved... While ringing our bell at Betty Mauldin Park It came to my heart that the tragedy that shook Newtown, Connecticut, and indeed the entire nation, defies analysis. What must have gone on in the mind of this young man for him to walk into a school of little children and wreak such devastating carnage numbs the soul… At the same time this was happening, I was at Cracker Barrel with my dad and trying to figure out what to eat. When I left and returned home, among the first pieces of news on my phone was the news of this mass killing. Something within me hoped that it was all BS and false, but I knew deep inside that I was reading an unfolding story of horror and tragedy. What does one say? What is even appropriate without violating somebody’s sacred space and their right to scream in protest? I simply cannot fathom the unbearable weight within a parent’s or grandparent’s heart at such a personal loss. It has often been said that the loss of a child is the heaviest loss to bear. I have no doubt that those parents and grandparents must wonder if this is real or simply a terrifying nightmare. My heart and my prayers are for them and, indeed, for the family of the assassin. How his father will navigate through this will be a lifelong journey of pain he did not deserve.
When a mass-killer like this ends by taking his life, there is an even deeper sense of loss. Everyone wants to know, “Why?” Not that the answer would soften the blow but it would at least give some clue, some release to speak, to hear, to try to work through. But all we are left with is twenty-eight funerals and lifelong grief. I remember this same feeling from Columbine and 9/11… I sometimes wonder if we all have to go through it per generation. Still this one has pained my heart far more than any other. The victims were in the age of innocence. Some not even old enough to be aware of death, yet alone their own mortality.
My own attempt at saying something here is feeble but carries a hope that somebody listening will make this world a better place... I read on my Facebook and twitter that many of you feel guilty in celebrating the holidays this year because of the loss of life. I say the opposite in more appropriate. These children were waiting for the holidays and Santa... This year I hope we can put away the selfish usually accompanied by an adult in these times. Let us all celebrate the season in their memory, like children fully of joy, happiness and embracing the magic! Christmas 2012 should be for them, a lesson for us to never let go of the innocence and magic of youth. May the Holidays refill your broken heart with some joy and a lesson. Let us forget the shooters name and not give him his 15 minutes, and remember the heroes and children always in this time.