Okay…so this post? This post here? There is a very good possibility that this post is going to be all over the board. So…I’m sorry about that…but you’ve been warned.
When I was in my mid-twenties, a high school classmate of mine was murdered. It was…beyond horrifying and devastating. My high school community came together during that time to support her family, attend the funeral, attend the trial and conviction, and we attended fundraisers year after year to support a victim’s support group in her honor.
After that happened, I had a very difficult time stomaching violent movies, or TV shows…I couldn’t even handle Law & Order. Because when something like that happens in real life? Seeing it on screen is no longer entertainment. It’s a sensationalized reminder of something that actually happened. Similarly, I lost my taste for watching the news. Because let’s be honest…not much that makes the 10 o’clock news is good news. Typically? It’s pretty dismal.
To this day, I still don’t watch the news, unless something really big is happening. I read the paper but skip articles that I know will be filled with devastation or violence…especially towards children. I just…can’t. And because so much of it involves other communities I get to remain pretty detached, right? If I don’t watch it, if I avoid it, it doesn’t affect me. I’m happy (well…happy is probably not the right word) to read about legislation, or policy, or economics, or religion, or what’s going on throughout the world. But I just haven’t felt like I have the capacity to hear more tragic news. Real life is hard enough, our personal tragedies and challenges are brutal enough. Adding the terrible heartbreak of others on top of that is not necessary for me to understand that life, and our world, are sometimes very unfair and tragic.
When things like Sandy Hook happen, I avoid Facebook for days. I pretend CNN doesn’t exist. And after a little time has passed I read articles by intellects that dissect and summarize the event or situation without sensationalizing it.
When I tell people this, they think I’m nuts (i.e. my parents). How can I not watch the news?! People will mention tragic things that are going on and I’ll say “I don’t know what you’re talking about?” and they will look at me like I’m straight-up crazy.
Today I have been glued to any news website, radio station, or TV station I can get my hands on. Today, an elementary school in the community I grew up had a couple classes of fourth graders on a field trip at a local park. They were searching for fossils. We’ve had nothing but rain for days and days. Four children were looking for fossils when the ground beneath them opened and they fell into a gully, followed by rocks, mud, sand, and water. Two children are at the hospital with injuries, one is dead, and one remains missing.
Many many people from my high school remain in, or have returned to, our community to raise their own children. Several have kids at this school. A few have fourth graders. And my heart is broken. And I feel sick.
I immediately went to Facebook because truly, my high school community? They are always gathered on Facebook. It’s where we come together. Thankfully, pretty early-on, two people I was particularly worried about assured everyone that their fourth graders were okay. Their kids, thankfully, were to take the same field trip tomorrow. But there are still two families, from my hometown, that don’t have their babies tucked-in bed in a room down the hall from them. And that is too difficult for me to even comprehend.
I’ve mentioned before that I really loved my high school. Friends of mine have disagreed, respectfully, and said that they weren’t such fans of the place. But the people who make-up that community still…today…nearly 20 years later for me (but including people much older and much younger than me) are like a force of nature. Supportive, encouraging, empathetic, and so very introspective and smart. Seeing the posts today makes my heart swell and ache…that we can pull together at a moment’s notice is something incredibly special.
None of this, however, is my actual point. Let me first say…I do not run around town singing “love and light” to anyone who will listen. I am not known for my warm and fuzzy nature. Ask anyone. But on tragic days like this one, something becomes blatantly clear, as does the path that I know I (we) should be on. I’ll speak for myself…no need for soap boxing here. But seriously? There is literally no room for hate. Or bull sh-t cattiness. Or stooping to the levels of others who can’t rise above. Really? There is only room for love.
The rest? For the most part? It doesn’t matter. What matters is making sure our children feel so loved they can hardly stand it every night they go to sleep and every morning they leave for school. And that our loved ones know that they mean the world to us. That our friends know how very important they are to our happiness. That our partners feel loved, adored, and valued. And anything else in our lives that we’re incapable of loving? Well…that stuff needs to be tossed to the side. Because it’s not worth the time or energy if it doesn’t reflect, give back, or encourage love.
I am going to support and encourage anyone in my life, past or present, who seems like they need it (love). I am going to spare the people to whom I cannot give my love and let them be (love). And I am going to do my damndest to be kind and to spread love as much and as often as possible (love). Because on a day like today it is the only thing that can even start to soften the blow and make it feel even a teensy bit less horrible. I am not one to quote The Beatle’s (in fact I’m not certain I ever have before)…but…
TODAY: What if really…TRULY…all you need is love.