Today is Saturday, 10 days before Christmas day, the birthday of Jesus and one of the happiest times of the year in the life of any child. Yesterday an evil man walked into an elementary school and shattered the innocence of every child there. He stole the lives of twenty six- and seven-year-olds and six teachers and staff members before killing himself. An entire town is in shock and the nation prays and mourns with them.
Yesterday I found myself completely at a loss. Like nearly everyone else, I am unable to comprehend how such a thing could happen. I cried and ached to hold my kids, hugged my staff and wondered aloud how the parents and families could possibly cope with this horrible loss.
I’m a mom. My younger son is nearly the same age as those children torn from their families and heartlessly murdered. I can’t imagine sending my son to school and never seeing him alive again.
There was another mom in Connecticut yesterday, the mother of the shooter. He looked into her face then shot her. We still know next to nothing about the circumstances of her death but she must have been so frightened seeing her death in her son’s face.
I’m also a teacher. I look at my job as primarily education: I’m teaching my patients about their bodies, their health, diet and exercise and how to stay well. If they have an illness I try to make sure they understand why it’s important to take care of it. Seeing a patient “get it” is so rewarding!
The teachers in Connecticut were heroes long before yesterday, quietly helping the children “get it” day in and day out. Yesterday, Vicky Soto hid her first-graders in locked cabinets in her classroom and told the shooter they were in the gym. He shot and killed her. She gave her life to protect the children in her care. She is the ultimate hero.
As a healthcare professional I pray for the EMTs, firefighters and police who walked into those classrooms and will carry nightmare images for the rest of their lives. No training could prepare a person for such sights.
This Christmas I hope we will all pause a moment to remember what is most important: the love of our families and our connection to each other as communities. In the bustle of buying and wrapping gifts and hanging stockings and putting up trees, please set aside some time to call friends and family. Hug your kids and create some happy memories with them. Pray with them and remember the families of Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
God bless us, every one. Clearly we need it.