Earlier today 27 people were killed at an elementary school northeast of New York City. At least 20 of them were children. The shooter killed his own mother--a kindergarten teacher at the school. I've heard several reports say that his father was also found dead at a home in another city. And that the shooter killed his mother as well as the 18 students in her classroom.
Reports are still coming in, and although the reports are changing slightly, it's obvious that this is a tragic day no one will forget.
You can read one of the many articles on this HERE.
This news is so devastating . . . so deeply sad that it brings to mind Columbine. I was sixteen years old at the time, a happy-go-lucky kid. The news came in slowly. We turned on the TVs at my own high school in Salt Lake City, and I cried. I knew kids who went to Columbine. They were Christians, good people. None of them died that day, though I worried, wringing my hands in front of the TV at the corner of the classroom, for once not caring what anyone thought of my hair or teenage-like clothes.
A woman from church called me that night. At the time I was a devout Christian. I'd been sitting in a car with my boyfriend, both of us greiving over the kids who'd died just one state away. I guess it hit us extra hard since we'd gone to camp with kids in that town. "I've got to take this call," I told him. "It's a lady from church and she never calls. Something must be wrong--maybe to do with Columbine."
"I'm proud to know you," she said after I answered the phone. "When I heard about the shooting, the reporter said how the gunman asked the students to stand up if they believed in Jesus. You would have stood up and died," she said. "And that makes me proud."
I sat dumbfounded. I still don't know what I would have done. I told my boyfriend what the woman had said. He dropped out of school a week later, convinced our school would be next and he'd be forced to stand or go to Hell.
There were many days throughout the following year that our school received bomb threats. Brighton High was evacuated various times and the students were told to wait in the parking lot while police inspected classrooms, lockers, the works. Many kids didn't react as my THEN ex-boyfriend had. His reaction embarrassed me so much that I couldn't stand dating someone spineless enough to drop out of school. He asked me later why I broke up with him and I said, "I won't date someone who's afraid to live."
But the truth remains, this IS a scary world. I don't think we should walk around with bulletproof vests on or carry machine guns, but we should mourn and reflect.
I just got back from the grocery store. I'm always smiley and congenial with the cashiers and staff there. But today I wasn't. A manager walked from across the store just to ask what was wrong. He doesn't know me. He had no idea how sad I've been, broken-hearted for the families who have lost loved ones and children today--just before Christmas.
I started crying right next to the medicine aisle, like I'm the damn person who needs some happy pills.
He looked at me--that manager who doesn't get paid to ask how customers are doing--and he just nodded like he knew why I was sad. Tears filled his eyes and he simply asked again, "How are you today?"
"I'm fine," I sobbed.
"Me too," he replied, in a strained voice. Then I left the grocery store knowing this is a day America will never forget. It's a tragic moment when two strangers can cry in a grocery store and know exactly what's wrong without spelling things out.
My condolences to those who have lost loved ones today.
I'll continue my post from earlier tomorrow.