Will We Ever Get Back Our Innocence?

Many people have been talking, writing and blogging about the events of last Friday(December 14) and with good reason. The actions of one trouble young man have affected not only his family, the families of those slain, but everyone throughout the country.

I’ve always had problems when the media make  blankets statements that include “the world” and “everyone.” For instance, “Everyone is enjoying the music of________ (fill in the blank).”  “The world is reeling from the death of ________ (fill in the blank with the name of some famous actor or singer, etc.)” I’m part of the world and there are many, many times that I’m not enjoying or reeling from something the media says I should.

But this time, I can honestly say I’m part of that “everyone” and “the world.” Anyone who is not affected in some way by the death of so many innocent children and the adults that take care of them have, for some reason, had their hearts hardened.

I cannot imagine what those families are going through or what the teachers and their students went through. As a past teacher, and one who called the students, “my kids,” I understand the need of each and everyone of the adults who tried to protect their kids. I have found myself sobbing at the loss of so many. Over the past few days I have tried to put myself in their place. I think about the many rooms I taught in and where I might have hid my kids to protect them. Some are pretty scary. Then again, when I taught, life was different. The thought of someone coming into the school to kill never entered our minds.

My husband and I picked up three of our grandkids on Friday to bring them to our house to make Christmas cookies. (Ages 8 1/2, 5 1/2, and 3 1/2) My daughter had posted earlier in the day that she just wanted to hug her kids. Luckily she met us at the restaurant for supper and was able to do so before we took them home. By her request, (a wise one), we did not talk about the incident nor did we have the television on to hear about the tragedy. On the way home, we looked for Christmas lights and drove through out town enjoying the sights. I had the radio tuned to a station playing Christmas music. At one point the news came on. I turned the volume down as quickly as I could.

All weekend as the kids enjoyed making and frosting cookies, having fun with grandpa playing hide and seek, invisible kids, zoo and other games, the thoughts of those families who will never be able to do this again with their children or grandchildren was never far from my mind. When I put them to bed and they were asleep, I crept into their room several times and just stood and watched, in awe that I was blessed with them and praying that no evil monster would harm them.

On Sunday night, my daughter talked to the two oldest girls about what happened knowing they would hear of it in school on Monday. The kindergartener was full of questions. One thing she said was, “They are in heaven now and heaven is a fun place.” Then she asked if the bad man was in heaven, too. My daughter wasn’t sure how to answer that one, but the third grader said, “No, he’ll go to an evil place.” Why, oh, why do our little ones even have to think about such things?

Yesterday afternoon I helped at the girls’ school for Christmas craft making. A building that was once open, was now locked. We had to press a buzzer for entrance. I asked the secretary if there was a camera to view those who wanted to enter. As I walked down the hallway, I passed the first grade rooms. The children were coming in and out of their rooms getting ready to leave for the day. They were talking, giggling, being silly and so, so small. So, so small – and innocent. (Tears running down my face again.) When it was time for the kids to leave, there were adults coming and going from a side door picking up their kids. I couldn’t help thinking how easy it would be for someone who didn’t belong to enter.

Every generation has had something to be fearful about – wars, bombs, hunger, etc. I can remember as a child going through the bomb drills. At a signal we would jump under our desks and place our hands over our heads so if a bomb dropped, we would be safe. My thinking as an adult – what a joke. Anyway, what most generations did not have to worry about was not being safe in school. For many of us it was a sanctuary from home – someplace warm and safe with a caring teacher. Now we have to try and assure our children that no bad men will come and hurt them, but just in case, we have drills on what to do if someone bad does enter the building. My granddaughters’ school calls it Stranger Danger. (They have been doing this for a while.)

This is not a place to talk politics and what should be done to put a stop to these horrors, but to mourn those innocent lives lost and pray for their families and our schools and teachers. I hope and pray I never again have to be part of “everyone” or “the world” unless it is for something joyous.


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