Look at them and Then Look at them again: Thoughts on recent school ShootingsMy friend Lia Hennigar is a beautiful writer, and when she shared her thoughts with me about the recent school shootings in the States, I asked her if I could post her essay on the blog. This is what she has to say.
Look at them - and then, look at them again.Bear with me. I need to get this out of my head. My husband Barry and I do this thing on school mornings where, if one of us is very much up and at –‘em, the other closes the door to let the sleepy one catch a few more winks (if the door is open, it means, “get your arse out of bed!” On Friday morning, I looked up and saw that Barry had closed the door. He was going to take care of breakfast and lunches and see the boys off. I soon heard Nicholas, half asleep but energetically throwing himself down the stairs as he does before plunking himself into his favourite chair. I then heard Daniel bounding up the stairs – his 13-year-old body growing bigger every other day – he gets himself into the bathroom where I hear our flimsy shower door yank open, rattle and slam followed by the too-hard pull of the water spout and there he will be (until one of us calls him out!). And I think, ‘I need to get out of bed’.
I need to see my boys. Because even though I feel very safe here in Canada, even though I am more sure then I am unsure that something awful won’t happen, I still don’t know. No one knows. It could happen. Anything could. I just need to see them, hug them good morning smell their still damp hair, and say, goodbye, “I love you.”Bye Mom. See ya later, Dad. This is something I imagine the children lost on February 14th saying as they left for school that day. In Decemer 2012, I experienced a difficult time. So difficult that I was intentionally not engaging with others, reading much, or even watching TV for that matter. I did not turn on the news and therefore did not know that a troubled young guy walked into an elementary school and took the lives of the 20 children and six adults. The babies of Sandy Hook, and some adults who were there to teach them. When I did hear the news, I still didn’t turn on the TV. It was too much to see their faces – at that age, children are all eyes and chubby cheeks and the photos are usually of them smiling big at the camera or wearing a silly birthday hat, or hugging their pet. I admit, I could not look at them and still haven’t seen more then a photo or two of these innocents. Early in the new year – 2013 - as I was driving past our elementary school, I started to cry.
I thought of Sandy Hook and I imagined in there, the two children I loved. The others I cared about. The dozens in and around the neighbourhood. The ones I served hot lunch to every Monday.I thought of our Principal, teachers, Margaret. Karen. I thought of the staff who would do ANYTHING for the students at our small community school. Shortly thereafter, Daniel told me that they had a lock-down drill. He was in grade three. Nicholas, in grade one. Daniel explained that they have lock down drills in case a wild animal gets into the school and everyone needs to stay quiet. He told me how bad he would feel for the animal if it got in the school because it would be “so scared”. I had to look away. I could feel the lump in my throat. So now, it’s 2018 and the world is watching as 14 more kids and three adults, are gone. And Facebook is ramping up with “mental issue is the real culprit here!” And with meme’s about God and how God isn’t present in the school and maybe this is why. Please. I can’t even with this. Don’t bring God into this narrative. God didn’t create the AR-15. God loves everyone whether they pray in school or not. For some reason, I think the response will be different this time. Maybe I am naïve or just plain foolish to believe but I do. I can feel it, and it has everything to do with the fact that it happened at a high school. That the young, broken man with a gun – a killing machine – targeted his own peers. And let’s think about those peers. The teens. You remember being a teen right? You were wild, loving, fierce, angry one moment and in tears hugging friends and expressing-your-love-for-them, the next. You were not afraid to speak up, speak out, take a stand. You could quietly and smartly make your point or you could be a HUGE pain-in-the-ass and drive everyone around you NUTS. And this is what I see happening. I see them taking to social media – and who uses it better really – to RAISE the freakin’ volume! To raise the bar because let’s face it, the bar cannot get ANY lower. Can it?
They will use it to demand action. To shout over everyone else because they are young and strong, brilliant and genuine. They speak from the heart. They will use it to SHUT. DOWN. those people who are blaming the fact that kids don’t pray enough or get spanked enough or that THIS is why THAT is happening. To be blunt, I see them ripping the powers that be, a new one.As for me this time? I will look at every single one of them. I will get to know them as best I can. I wrote this for them. And for the babies at Sandy Hook. I was not present back then. I am now. And they deserve all of us to look at them. Look at their young faces. The baby fat is gone from their cheeks and their eyes may wear liner and they may look a little defiant, or shy, or confident or mischievous, but there they are, looking right back. They were beautiful young people and they were all becoming more of who they were meant to be. And now they are gone. So, this is for them. Lia Hennigar is a married mom of two (sometimes feels like more) boys living in Port Williams having moved from Toronto almost 13 years ago (it only took 5 years to adjust!). She is interested in writing about people who make a difference.