Nothing changes a plan for light-hearted self-mockery like a tragedy. So I come to you with one of many, I'm sure, sad reflections on this day at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
I thought I might tell you a little bit about Sandy Hook by doing what every good reporter in the country has been doing since about 10 AM this morning - googling the school's webpage. Here's what I got:
Newton Public Schools
Due to an extremely high service demand as a result of the events that have occured today, this website is temporarily being redirected to this page rather than the school system's usual home page.
To help deal with the events of today, there will be a memorial mass this evening at 7:00pm at St. Rose Church.
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
So I took a break to pace and cry and pound my fists heavenward with the prayer I sometimes say: "WTF God?!!"
I have children. They attended an elementary school three-quarters of a mile from our front door. It never occurred to me to imagine they might be victims of a mass murder while they were there. My sister is an elementary school teacher. I did not pray for her safety today. I never do. My daughter-in-law currently substitutes in elementary school. She was in a kindergarten class today. I did not petition the Almighty to send angels to surround her and keep her from harm in my quiet moments of conversation with God this morning.
Twenty children are not supposed to die at school. Six adults who spend their days sitting on floors reading books aloud and opening milk cartons that confound small fingers and nurturing the wide open minds of little people who adore them should not be killed on the job.
I was shopping when the news broke this morning. The NPR reporters who arrived early on the story could not suppress their emotions. When one of those reporters re-told his conversation with a parent from the school, he started crying as he said, "The father told me the children were lead out of the school one class at a time by police officers. They were told to hold hands and close their eyes until they got out of the building."
It was then that I pulled into a parking lot, turned off the radio, and sobbed. Nothing on my list seemed at all worth doing. I drove directly home. I parked the car and walked to my children's old elementary school...just to remind myself how completely innocent children and teachers are.
The kids who died in Newtown today, we will know by name soon. Their pictures and their stories and their grieving families will surely be front page news for days and days. I am already starting to imagine them...it's not hard.
There are, quite likely, pictures of them sitting on Santa's knee on the refrigerators in their houses. Wrapped gifts for them are probably already under Christmas trees. Holiday cards with their smiling faces are being delivered this very day to friends and family far and wide...
All I can do is cry and pray my befuddled prayer.
Could we all agree on one thing, dang it?
Our children and our teachers should be safe at school...