I already knew that, but it reached a new level after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Friday. Twenty children my daughter’s age died. Several of the educators who died were barely adults.
More than twenty sets of parents were reminded they could not protect their children all of the time.
When the Columbine school shooting happened in 1999, I was not moved nearly as much as I have been this weekend. Although those who died in Columbine were about my age and I probably should have felt terrorized for that reason alone, I didn’t.
Probably because Columbine should have made me think of my own death – and 16-year-olds don’t do that.
Friday’s tragedy made me think of my daughter’s death – and as a parent, I can barely type those two words in the same sentence. My daughter is jubilant and bouncy and smiles a lot. She is full of life. Something like what happened to parents in Connecticut can’t happen to me.
And I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know if I should keep her out of school Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and …
I don’t know if I should go to school with her. I don’t know if I should let her play in the yard. I don’t know if I should drop her off at a friend’s house. I don’t know if her after-school daycare is safe.
It’s not an issue of whether I’ve told her I love her enough. God forbid, but if tragedy were to strike, that’s one thing I wouldn’t worry about. Whenever she’s left my presence, I’ve always treated it as though it could be the last time I see her. A week ago, some may have said I was paranoid for thinking each day she went to school there may be a shooting or a fire or a bomb threat that is more than a threat. But I’ve always done that …
… because I know it could happen …
… although I’ve always doubted it would.
When she goes to school Monday, that doubt will not be as strong.
If fate were to take that child from me, there would be nothing left of my life.
I AM UNSETTLED by the reminder these things can happen. I am unnerved by the thought God allows such misfortune to occur. I have not cried since I was a child, but I cried several times this weekend.
Why does fate choose to take our children?
Why can’t there be just one place we can send our children and not fear for their safety?
Why can’t 20 children in Connecticut grow up to worry about their children?
I happened to be in my daughter’s second-grade classroom Friday afternoon. She was delivering a report on Christmas in Germany and I’d left work early, stopped to pick up some cookies to complement her project and made my way to her school.
I heard a snippet of the preliminary news reports from Newtown as I left. I didn’t let it register. I didn’t want to know how bad it was.
But as I sat in her classroom and watched those children finish indoor recess and settle in for their classmates’ reports at the persistent-yet-sweet request of their patient, smiling teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder …
… how could someone do what happened in Connecticut?
Come Monday morning, my sleepy daughter will get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, pick up her book bag and head to the car for school. If Sunday goes the same for her as Friday afternoon and Saturday, she will not know what happened in Connecticut.
And if Monday goes the same for me as every other school day since my daughter entered kindergarten, I will rely on my faith in God to keep me from worrying that what happened in Connecticut will happen at my daughter’s school.
For schools may not allow mention of His name as part of the curriculum, but no one can ever keep Him off the premises.