Although I have not been glued to the television 24/7 for all the details (thank goodness for the distraction of work), I have been drawn to the stories of these children and teachers. Today, as my own form of closure on this most horrible of tragedies, I thought I would write. These reflections are sure to be disjointed and are certainly not original or insightful, as anyone with even an ounce of a soul has felt and thought the same.
Before I begin my ramblings I want to introduce you to a song I found today. It is titled "Twenty Six Names" and is by Jason Robert Brown. I would encourage you to listen. It is hauntingly simple but nonetheless heart-wrenching…a "final roll call" for these beautiful children and their teachers.
On Friday, John and I were out and about in the Nashville area doing a little Christmas shopping, each having taken off work to do so. Upon returning a phone call to his school he found out that there had been a school shooting in Connecticut and that several teachers and students had been killed. That was all we knew for a while. About an hour later, listening to a news radio station in the car, we finally heard the first report of it for ourselves. When the words "at an elementary school" came through the speakers we were horrified.
Needless to say, the mood of our shopping trip changed after that and both John and I couldn’t wait to get home and see our own children.
I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that a person, even a twenty-year-old with supposed mental issues, could walk into a school and hunt down a group of children, killing every single student in one classroom and several others in another. This was no angry young adult killing other young adults or an angry teen killing his parents, both of which are equally wrong. This was a young man who, by all accounts, purposefully chose to target children.
I know that God can heal hearts, of that I am most certain, but I wonder if parents of children who die in such a way ever get to the point where they can make it through a week or day or even a few hours without thinking back on what the last moments of their child’s life was like. Were they scared? Did they realize what was happening? Did they suffer? Did they call out for mommy or daddy? Do these thoughts ever get replaced as the first thoughts one has in the morning and the last before falling asleep at night?
Of all these beautiful children, one face stood out to me. This sweet boy reminds me so much of my own son. Even John-Heath himself said, “Hey! That looks like me,” when he caught John and me looking at some of the children’s pictures online. I feel so blessed to have my John-Heath and Ren and so saddened that other parents have lost their Benjamin…and Jessica…and Noah…and Grace…and….
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
I have also felt equally in awe of the teachers and staff at the school. True heroes –every one of them! I have never been more proud to be a teacher!
I won’t write of the cause for our grief, though thoughts are plentiful. To even mention his name on the same page as the names of those sweet children and their teachers would be most wrong.
I will also hold my thoughts on the whole gun debate. The time for that will come later, I’m sure.
Instead, I will end by saying I will cherish my own children even more and I will continue to keep in my heart and prayers the families of those that were lost. May we live a life of kindness and good works to honor them all.