I just... words cannot possibly convey the emotions that are coursing through me - connecting me with every other heart in this nation as it falls into itself under the crushing weight of grief, confusion and helplessness.
How can something so painful, so terrible, so impossibly evil erupt and still be cruel enough to allow us to continue breathing?
I had just gotten back from a jovial lunch with my coworkers when I first learned of the tragedy. I almost felt guilty for having laughed over lunch as these families were desperately waiting for news of their children's safety. Oh Heaven... would a sacrifice of lunch have saved just one more child?
Within minutes, my emotions were overcoming me. I was sitting at my desk hearing reports as my coworkers were chattering what they saw on their news-feeds. It wasn't until my coworker, Russ, solemnly said, "It's just so close to Christmas" that I realized the extent of what this tragedy has done to families.
I couldn't hold back the tears and immediately went up to the chapel. Thankfully, I was the only one there, so I was able to cry freely and without embarrassment. I could barely breathe; the grief was crushing. I felt Christ in there with me, and I couldn't stand it.
I looked to Him, hidden in the tabernacle, and just pleaded that He go to comfort the families. I knew He was there already... that He is not constricted by space or time, but I didn't want to feel His Presence as I did. I didn't want His comfort as I felt guilty for having any while so many families were struggling with an agony impossible to comprehend. I guess He knew that, too, so He withdrew just enough to allay my senseless guilt.
I looked at Our Lady, next... this beautiful statue of her cradling the Infant Jesus. I cried anew as I thought of all those parents unable to cradle their children in their arms again. Mother Mary, I prayed, be with them, please. You suffered the same agony as you watched your innocent Son being torn away from you through impossible violence. Hold those newly arrived children in your arms and reach out to the shooter's and his mother's. Oh Heaven... rally around them to bring them home. Please. Help those left behind find comfort. Somehow, help them to find peace.
Listening to the news on the ride to pick up Vincent was just as heartwrenching. I was not the only parent freshly crying as a child was collected for the weekend.
It's only when I got home and realized I'd missed a call from my mother-in-law that I found out we have a connection to one of those families I was shedding so many tears for.
Jeff Previdi, a well known and very well-liked man who works closely with my father-in-law, lives in Connecticut. His little girl, Caroline, was among the victims. I don't know Jeff well. My father-in-law did, but to me, Jeff was just a sweet guy who came into the office a few times a year and called almost daily. To him, I was probably his buddy's super-friendly daughter-in-law.
I'm not saying this to somehow make my grief more "important" or more "valid" because I have some sort of connection to the Previdis. The connection just reminded me that our world truly is a small one. We are all connected, especially through emotion. It's incredible how quickly united we become so as to suffer together in an attempt to help one another shoulder the crushing burden.
And that's something my husband just couldn't understand. Through the entire weekend I kept seeing the reports and sobbing openly. I couldn't contain myself. I wanted to see those little babies. I wanted to read their stories. I wanted to see the staff and read their stories. I wanted to know more about the shooter and his mother. I wanted to make sense of the tragedy.
More importantly, however, I wanted to remember those children. I wanted to know them and cry for them and say prayers for their families. I needed to, even at such a high emotional cost.
John kept telling me to stop. That I was upsetting myself for no good reason. But it WAS a good reason. Crying and spending myself so emotionally is NOT a bad thing. It makes me human. It makes me sensitive to the emotions of others. It also makes my prayers more specific, which I think is a good thing.
He sorta rolled his eyes, but he didn't criticize. When tragedies occur, John does his best to ignore the situation. He hears the details once, then attempts to put it out of his mind forever. I do the exact opposite. I'll cycle through everything a thousand times and open myself up to the flood of emotions that sometimes overwhelm me. I feel it's the least I can do to help shoulder the burden with these families. Even if I can't ease their pain, at least I can offer up my own for their intentions. Somehow, God will make use of my tears, especially given that my intention behind them is good.
John just sees it as wasteful, and to a degree it even makes him angry. He recoils at the idea of there being a God who allows things like this to happen. He practically spat his disdain for my thought process out as he, too, tried to process his grief. I didn't fault him for his line of thinking. I understand it and just begged God to forgive him for saying mean things while hurting and confused. I prayed for all those who might be calling out against Him in anger, confusion, bitterness and agony.
It is understandable to look upon a God who is supposed to be benevolent and loving and point the finger saying, "How could you let this happen??? You're God! You could have done something! Why did you stand by and allow this???"
I understand that, and I cry for that.
I'm sorry for the rambling. I am just trying to process so much and have no words for 9/10ths of it. The loops of these words are at least making me feel like I'm doing my part to remember these families... to remember their suffering and help them along in their journey back to Our Father.
Oh Lord... help us, please. Blessed Mother, who so keenly understands the pain felt by these families, guide and protect them. Finally, all you little saints who I hope enjoy the eternal vision of Heaven's splendor, pray for us here below. Be at peace and enjoy the laughter and beauty of all that God is.
And God, I know I say this all the time, but I probably don't mean it nearly as sincerely as I should. Thank you for my little munch. Thank you for his health, his smile, his love and his kisses. Thank you for his existence. Keep him safe always with you. Amen.