I know I’m not alone. Sunday’s news from Orlando just gutted me.
I feel numb. I am feel angry. I am just pissed off about some of the exhausting social media rhetoric that has been trending for the past 48 hours.
But mostly, I just feel saddened. Looking at the pictures of those lost is just absolutely heartbreaking. Young people, just starting out, with the promise of a bright future, cut short by a madman. I am saddened for the survivors, who will forever carry the memories of this tragic night, their lives being forever marked as before and after this night.
And then I think about the families, beginning the journey of grief, trying to make sense of the senseless.
Sadly, this has become all too common. And with the commonality comes this standard and scripted response. We are shocked and saddened, we are sending love and prayers. Appropriate hashtags are created to ensure our words of comfort are disseminated with the masses. And then a few days pass…..and something else is trending, and any chance for meaningful change lessens by the minute.
I know we are genuinely shocked and saddened. I know the love and prayers are sincere.
it’s just not enough anymore.
We can no longer stand by and send love and prayers. We need to make a daily choice to embody that love, personify those prayers. We need to live the kind of life that leaves a fingerprint on the hearts of others. We need to respectfully stand up for those who need us, we need to honor those lost by expecting and ensuring that this country lives up to the all inclusive possibility-filled dream of its founders.
Our prayer need to be one of peace, expressed by turning our back on the hate speak of those who would try to separate us, to make “us” feel like we are different from”them.”
We need to express our love not just through our words, but in our actions. One active expression of love for our country is the act of critical thinking, choosing to truly understand opposing ideas and beliefs so you are better equipped to find common ground.
I know it’s complicated. I know that deciding to live your love and prayers is more challenging than just sending them with a hashtag. I know it doesn’t solve the complicated problems of terrorism or gun control. I know it doesn’t bridge the gap between communities, religions or political parties.
But it’s something. And right now, it’s better than feeling helpless.
Person to person. I commit to be the love and prayers. And you?
Below, I’ve pasted a blog I wrote in 2012 after the horrific day in Newtown. I just felt I needed to share this again today.
One cannot get through life without pain…What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.
~Bernie S. Siegel~
I’ve tried to focus on the positive. It is, after all, kind of my thing. It’s what I do. I look for the silver linings, I find blessings in the darkest of days. But this past Friday, I was with the world, as we watched a horrific reality unfold in a quaint town in Connecticut.
It was mind numbing, it was hard to mentally process that something like that could actually be happening. But sadly, as the day progressed, the dark and grim news was confirmed. Life for so many families was forever changed.
Since that time, I’ve tried to keep away from some of the coverage, it was simply to difficult to watch. But no matter how hard I tried to keep my distance, I, like so many, find myself drawn back into the dialogue. The faces of the beautiful children etched into my memory, I feel such compassion for the parents and families of the fallen. I have cried tears for them, knowing they are beginning a journey that no parent ever wants to contemplate. I remember the physical, “punch you in the gut” kind of pain when you realize your child is gone. The heaviness that descends on your life, slowing your movements, feeling like a crushing boulder on your shoulders as you try to muddle through. You put one foot in front of the other, but it is as if you are pulling the weight of the world behind you.
I say this with the greatest of respect, and also with the understanding that I do not completely understand the type of grief that comes from a loss related to this level of violence, an event that puts their grieving hearts on the world’s stage.
So, I pray for them. I send love and light to them, and hope that the kindness of others allows them brief moments of comfort. I pray that they will be able to go on. It is truly the only thing I can do. I am just another Mom, who knows what it is like to bury a child, to try to pick up the crumbled pieces of a life, and try and find a way back to living.
But there’s one more thing. As citizens, we all have our part to play in what happens next. We must not let this moment dissipate, and we all have a responsibility to do right by these children and their brave teachers.
We may never figure of the “why” question. People will surmise, they will point fingers in a variety of different directions when trying to determine accountability. Why did this happen, how did this come to pass, where was God when this happened? Some will blame gun laws, some will blame a failing mental health system, some will blame God. So many questions mulled over in the one hour news shows as they try to come to grips with something that simply will never make sense. It will never really ever make sense to a rational mind.
So, I want to ask “What Now?”
It’s time now America. It’s time now to have a discussion about the American Dream. It’s time to really open our eyes and start asking ourselves some tough questions about what we really want for this country. Do we want everyone armed, metal detectors at every school, movie theatre, shopping mall, place of worship or gas station? Do we want to put measures in place that further separate and alienate ourselves from one another? Or do we want to take a long hard look at what this country was truly designed to provide and create for its citizens?
If we want to come up with the best decisions, we need not look to the partisan talking points of our politicians. We need not look to special interest groups for their crafted position statements. If you want to create a country that lives up to the American Dream, look into the eyes of those children. Look into the smiling faces of those brave teachers who gave the ultimate selfless sacrifice. Sit down with the parents, and ask them what should happen now. Listen to the stories of parents, dreams cut short, visions of graduations and weddings and grandchildren.
It’s time America. It’s time to take care of our mentally ill, it’s time to look at realistic gun safety, it’s time to stop fighting with each other over political beliefs and preventing this country from growing and evolving. It’s time to ask where we go from here. We can’t let the outrage about this event dissipate as it has with others, with no real change being realized. It’s time to look at each of our children, and honestly ask, “What Do They Deserve?”
As a bereaved parent, I understand how much that “why” question can haunt you. Making peace with an incomplete answer is the hardest thing I personally have ever had to deal with, and I can only imagine that is compounded for these grieving families.
So, as we try to send love and support to this grieving community, let’s all start having a conversation about “What Now?” Because something needs to change. We all have an opportunity to have a voice in this discussion, and create a more peaceful country that honors the lives of those lost.
Sending prayers and love to those who are suffering,