Random babbles.... please excuse.... I needed to think out loud...
I learned about the shooting this morning and quickly turned off the TV. I didn't want my kids to hear about it before school. And to be honest, I didn't want to hear about it. I had hoped it was handled, no one was hurt and the kids were okay.
I had a bunch of errands to run- if you follow my posts, you know this week has been crazy for me. I dropped my kids off- it was raining, so I didn't walk them in like I usually do. Plus, we were there just in time- I had to load up the car with the turkey I was taking to a friend's house for the dinner she is serving to the homeless on Sunday. I usually hang out and watch my daughter play, but today I wanted to get a jump start, so I could make it back to volunteer in the afternoon. I did the normal "See ya! Love ya! Have a good day! Learn a lot! Change the world!" We smiled. Off they went. The kids were all hurrying into the school because of the rain. They didn't look back.
I went around the block, was at the red light and then I heard the sirens.
Three police cars were headed towards the school.
My heart stopped.
Was the shooting not just another angry boyfriend or student? Was this a terrorist attack? Was it some sort of planned national event?
Then I rushed back towards the school, my heart racing and thinking there is no way that could happen to me... please, God... don't let this be happening here.... how could I just leave them there? Do they know that I love them? Why didn't I walk them in? Why did I yell at my daughter to hurry up and comb her hair? Why didn't I look at her dress designs instead of paying the water bill online and checking my email? Did I even ask my son what he was doing in school today or did I just ask him to pick up the dog poop?
The sirens weren't anything. There was a small car accident on the freeway by the school.
I could breathe.
I went on with my errands. I went to the office. I intentionally didn't listen to the news. I made it to the school to volunteer. My daughter likes to hug me. I let her. We got our nails done tonight-- her birthday party is tomorrow. I hugged my son a little longer when he got home.
I was making cookies tonight for a cookie exchange. My daughter was helping me. And I kept thinking about how many holiday parties families had planned to go to and how silly it all seems now. How many other parents were rushed this morning like I was and cut a hug or kiss short and would be haunted by it for the rest of their lives.... I looked at the Christmas cards we've received with all the happy family pictures-- how so many people would be receiving cards like that with the faces of dead children smiling at them. And my stomach feels like a rock.
We were supposed to go out tonight and celebrate that I had made my business goals. We tried.
My son asked me about the shooting. I told him the man who did, like all the others, was probably mentally ill. He asked why people didn't help him or fix it. I tried to explain to him that mentally ill people often don't know they are. I compared it to my husband being color blind- if that is your "normal" you don't feel crazy or that anything is wrong-- just like my husband thinks red looks brown. I don't know what it's like for him.
I've had close friends and family members that have suffered from mental illness. There is so little you can do. I tried to explain to one friend that her frequent outburst-- randomly crying in public-- I've never done it. Her issues she had with co-workers-- I've never had any. She found it fascinating and implied that maybe I was the one who was off. I can't imagine what life is like inside her head.
The privacy laws prevent the gun laws from working. Doctors can't disclose concerns unless it's a public safety issue-- they are usually a day too late. Health care for mental illness is limited. If you don't have private insurance getting care puts you on a waiting list. People don't take it seriously. There's a "suck it up, buttercup" mentality for it. Social services are strapped.
So there's that conversation.
We're gun owners and we're not sure why anyone needs automatic weapons.
But for me, it always goes back to the fact that you can't protect against crazy. You can't.
Our school, before my son attended, went on lockdown. During a bad divorce, a father killed a mother- despite the restraining order (the most ridiculous piece of paper ever). As she was dying, she crawled to the phone, called 911 and said he was headed to the school.
They got him before they got there. The parents in my neighborhood were terrified. The teachers handled it. The school policy worked.
We have double locked doors. Gates were put up, with chains, to secure the playground. You have to sign in.
This school had a similar system.
You can't protect against everything.
And then, as I watched the news I kept thinking "That looks like where I lived in Connecticut..." But New England towns look similar and I didn't think much more about it.
I lived there 19 years ago for 3 months. My address was Danbury but I lived on the edge of town and on the weekends, because I didn't have TV or any friends except 1, I would drive the backroads, go hiking. It was a gorgeous area.
When they showed the church, I thought "No...." It was where I attended mass.
It really was the pretty school that I would drive by and think "Wow- what a perfect little town." The diner. The orchards. That really was the road and the barn that I thought was beautiful. I don't know anyone there any longer, but it still hit me that I lived there. Down the road. You went left to my house off the freeway. Right took you to Newtown.
It was a commuter area, so in my brief stay, I didn't get a big sense of community, but again, I wasn't there very long. I hope they can lean on each other through this tragedy.
And at the end of the day, I can guarantee they will find he was a newly diagnosed personality disorder. It's the age. It's the same story you saw in Colorado. The "you're kidding- him? He was a good kid..." If you've ever known someone whose had a psychotic break, you understand.
Did his mom just decide to cut him off? Tell him he was 20 and needed to get a job or go to school? Did he accuse her of caring for her students more than him?
Does it even matter?
It wouldn't to me, if my child were dead.
Or my husband. A teacher.
So people are going to start blaming guns- which might be the right thing to do. The automatic weapons still seem a bit beyond the scope of what I think our forefathers meant with the second amendment. But will more laws stop crazy people and criminals?
A few people have even commented that this wouldn't have happened if teachers carried guns. Sigh. Come on.
But for me, I wish people would discuss how mental illness is treated. Again, this might not be the case, but I doubt that any sane person would kill a kindergarten class. They wouldn't. And EVERY SINGLE TIME it comes out that the person had "issues" but they didn't understand how deep the issues were.
Ashleigh Banfield described the scene in the firehouse when the parents realized that their child wasn't coming out of the school.
That description will terrify me forever. Being the one left in the room, knowing that meant your child was dead. Murdered.
Will I ever be able to let go? Will I ever get over the feeling that today could be the last day I'll see my child?
I don't want to live in fear but I don't want to take a minute for granted.
I don't know any answers. These are simply some of my thoughts.
I just know that my kids are going to be spoiled a little more than usual.
Because they came home. Because this time it was my old neighborhood and not the one I live in now.
But you really never know.