Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My heart is breaking

Since becoming a mother, news takes on a whole new perspective for me. Almost 8 years ago, 2 children walked into Columbine High School and went on a shooting rampage that killed 12 students and 1 teacher as well as injuring 24 other students before the killers turned the guns on themselves. I remembered being shocked and saddened. When I went out to Denver the following year, I was fascinated by where the high school was and if we could drive by it - it was a kind of obsession with trying to understand what could make these 2 students commit this horrific act.

Yesterday, the Columbine shooting was bumped from the second deadliest school shooting, behind the 1966 University of Texas shooting, to the third deadliest, after Cho Seung-hui went on a shooting spree that killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech University and became the worst school shooting in this country's history.

I found out about the shooting from my mom when I called her on my way home from Atrium. I didn't really understand the scope of this tragedy until I got home and turned the television on. All of a sudden, my stomach dropped, and I felt sick, so sick to my stomach. My thoughts immediately turned to the parents of these students who were killed. My next thought went to my brother and sister-in-law who live in Blacksburg, and my littlest sister who goes to college nearby. My mom told me that everyone in my family was safe, so once again, my thoughts turned to the children who were gunned down in the prime of their lives. I tried to imagine their fear as they realized what was happening. As they looked at this monster, were they praying? Were they calling out for their moms and dads? And my mind went to my children. Becoming a mother has changed things for me. Now, I can almost feel these parents keening pain at the loss of their child.

My sister Kellie has a long time friend who lives on the same floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall that the murders first took place. Emily told Kellie that she had gotten up at around 6:30 to go to the bathroom and then went back to bed. She was woken up around 7:30 to banging on the door and people yelling at the students to get out of their rooms and downstairs. I can only imagine the confusion that surrounded Emily, a girl I watched grow up, and all of the other students in that dorm. Kellie found out that everyone that she knows who goes to VA Tech were all accounted for. She and a number of her friends attended the convocation held today on the campus of VA Tech.

Cho Seung-hui then went back to his dorm room and waited 2 hours before going over to Norris Hall, where he chained the doors shut, and began his shooting spree. As I watch the news, I keep getting more information about some of the victims of this tragedy. The shooter went to high school right near where Chris works. 7 of the students were from this area. One of the victims was one of this country's foremost bio-tech engineers and was working on a cure for cerebral palsy. Another professor who died was a survivor of the Holocaust, and died protecting his students - he held the door shut and when the shooter broke through the door, Liviu Mibrescu threw himself in front of the shooter so that his students could continue escaping out the window. I would like to think that I would be that selfless if I were in that situation.

I look at my children and pray for the strength to be able to let them go one day. As my dad say, we can't raise our children in a bubble - but gosh I'd like to be able to protect them, but know that I can't keep them safe forever. There is evil out there. It touched my life as a young woman in college when a drunk driver took the life of my 3 year old brother Brian. I learned about the pain of loss years ago. As a parent, I can't totally understand what my parents have gone through, but I have a glimpse of it when I think about my own children. Lord, please grant the parents and families of those who were killed your peace.


Terry said...

Your dad is right. You can't keep them in a bubble. You can only give them roots and wings and one day they fly away and hopefully live the life you hope for them. You just have to teach them to live every day to the fullest along with how to defend themselves, be smart, use common sense and pray that they are being looked after by a higher power. Being a parent is not an easy job.

Jane Ramsey said...

My heart was breaking for those parents, too. Only God can heal such deep and horrible pain.

Ruth said...

This is a beautiful post, but so such a sad story. I don't want to let my 17dd go :(