He Crossed the Line

Yesterday, someone asked me if I was having a good weekend. I said yes, but that wasn’t entirely true.

I was sad. So sad, and I’m sure you know why. In fact, like many of you I spent most of Friday in various stages of sorrow and tears. How could this be? Who can explain what happened?

Sandy Hook Elementary: People gather at a makeshift memorial near the school following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. Read more: http://nation.time.com/2012/12/15/sandy-hook-shooting-the-names-of-the-dead/#ixzz2FNf8Bfc6 Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

And, how can life go on in the face of such tragedy?

In the early hours of Friday morning, I had written a post about commercials. This was before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  Many of you were kind enough to comment, and the comments trickled in throughout the weekend.

But, I found it very hard to respond to your comments, as suddenly a post about ads and soup seemed trivial and inconsequential. I couldn’t even bring myself to visit my blog. I just didn’t have it in me.

Another asked if I was ready for the holidays and I thought to myself, are you kidding? In light of this tragedy, how can I begin to answer that question?

And, then I thought of my own children, and how lucky I am that they’re okay. That I’ve been able to see them grow up. In a few days, my daughter will be home from school and I will be off from work so that I can spend time with her.  I’m lucky, too, because my son lives nearby and visits nearly every week.

I’ve had the chance to see them grow up and have them in my life.  But, there are parents in Newtown, Connecticut who were robbed of this.

There’s a six-year-old boy who lives across from me. He has a bright smile and I know he’s a good kid, for I’ve known him and his parents since he was an infant. Recently, he rang my doorbell and asked me for a job walking Henry. I was impressed with his desire to take responsibility and earn an income. So, now he walks my dog every once in a while, for which I pay him a few dollars. He came by this weekend, and I was reminded that he’s the same age as the children from Newtown.

On Saturday, I had plans to spend the day with my son and his girlfriend. We had planned this outing weeks ago, and a small part of me wanted to cancel in light of this tragedy. Yet I needed, to be with my children at this time and spending the day with them at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park proved to be just the thing.

Afterwards, we went out to dinner at a mall, crowded with holiday shoppers and of course, the parking lot was full. But there was something else: the parking lot was teeming with police, floodlights and police-lookout towers. It startled me at first, but I assumed they were there to protect from the many car thefts that occur in shopping mall parking lots this time of year. Then, on Sunday I learned that a man had fired 50 shots into the air, while in a shopping center parking lot at another mall in Southern California, and I wondered whether that incident was the cause for beefed up security at the mall we were visiting.  I can’t say for certain.

In my sorrow, I stayed away from this blog for two days, so I apologize for not replying to your comments sooner. But in the end, I know that life goes on, and life is beautiful and precious.

Why can’t we all value human life? Why did the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary have to happen? And, why oh why did the shooter cross the line and kill so many, including 20 beautiful children?

I’ve written an open letter to the shooter. You can find it on the Huffington Post site.  Please read it and then offer your comments there. Thank you, thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you, my readers.

Here’s the beginning:

Dear Adam Lanza,

What happened? Where did we fail you?

I’m assuming something went horribly wrong in your life, leading you to this horrific day in December, smack in the middle of our holiday season.

Did it happen at home, with the breakup of your parents’ marriage? Was it in school or during soccer practice? Were you pushed to take music lessons at a young age?  Or did someone forget to wish you a Merry Christmas?

Perhaps it was something deeper, beyond our sphere of understanding, that troubled you?

Whatever it was, I’m trying to comprehend, and asking myself how it led you to take it out on the youngest among us. Our future, our children…

You can read the rest at the Huffington Post.

25 thoughts on “He Crossed the Line

  1. Anyone who’s ever worked with animals – dogs or horses, say, knows there are some animals that are just mean-spirited, broken, from birth. It’s not a case of they weren’t handled with care and kindness (though often that IS the reason they “go mean”), but something inside their heads/hearts, is simply askew from birth. So too with human beings.

    Some people commit horrific acts because horrific acts were visited upon them; others because they are deep in the grip of untreated mental illness. Some just seem… broken – I am thinking of Ted Bundy, for example, though many would say that all psychopaths and sociopaths are mentally ill, too,

    We need to put MUCH more effort into recognizing and treating mental illness, and supporting families, who may not want to believe that something is going horribly wrong with Billy or Grandpa or Aunt Sue. There’s such stigma and blame, when there’s mental illness in the family – and of course, it doesn’t happen in OUR family, it happens in those families over there,

    And in some cases, people who are dangerous need to be confined BEFORE they shoot up a shopping mall or a movie theatre or an elementary school. In any event, we need to do more to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of the criminals and the mentally ill.

  2. Monica, I too am reeling from the shock of this tragedy. So incredibly sad. My nana would say you are truly and empathic soul and hence, you were unable to continue with your regular doings while others suffered such a tragic loss. Like so many readers have said, we may never know what drove this young man to do what he did. I do know that the pain of this tragedy has affected all of us on so many levels. Like you, I’m grateful that my children have been able to live through their childhood and that we’ve never faced anything like this. My heart goes out to the parents and family members of the victims. Those precious children…those valiant adults… Oh my goodness. I seek comfort in the thought that God has taken them under His wing. Hugs to you, amiga.

    • Bella, I’m afraid that this country has such a short-term memory that they have already forgotten and moved on, and that nothing will be learned and changed as a result. We have to take a comprehensive approach, one that includes revisiting how we handle mental health in this country and one that also looks at gun control. Now, more than ever, we need to address this.

  3. Like you, there was little I hard the heart to do on Friday. As you know from reading my blog, I as on a high most of the week. Hard to think of anything but sisters losing brothers, little children losing friends, mothers and fathers trying to sleep at night with huge huge holes in their hearts. Despite all we do to make sense of it — each in our own way — there is no making sense of a senseless act. Only tears. And the reality that, if this doesn’t bring about gun control laws, we’re hopeless as a society.

    • Deborah, Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you sooner. It’s been a few weeks now since the events at Sandy Hook. I wonder how the community is doing. The media seemed to have moved on to fiscal cliff stuff, etc., but I’m sure the pain is still very fresh for so many. My heart goes out to all who live there. Will be interesting to see if new gun control laws comes out of this.

  4. I sensed you were away last weekend. Thank you for sharing.
    Your letter at the Huffington Post is a voice of reason, compassion, and our confusion. Thank you for taking it there. When enough voices say ENOUGH perhaps this horrible tide will turn.

  5. Drive-by shootings are so frequent in Miami Dade County the seldom make the 6 o’clock news even less frequent the newspaper. My daughter and family (mixed race) survived 2 four weeks ago at to separate locations a night apart. Boyfriend was shot critically 8 weeks ago sitting on his porch around midnight. Can you imagine the horror of three little children seeing their father screaming in a pool of blood ? Most of Miami Dade is minority and over 50% foreign born. Bet you never heard about stuff here. I am resentful that when it happens in WHITE America it becomes a national tragedy. Here it is merely part of life as dismissed by the rest of WHITE America.

    • Carl, no it isn’t always front page news in White America either, just to put it in perspective. What is happening nationwide is a tragedy. What happened Friday is far different than what happens on the streets of our cities. While our national love affair with guns and violence are certainly related to mass murderers rampaging through schools, malls and office buildings it isn’t the same to random acts of violence in the streets of our cities across the nation.

      We have to address both. But they are separate issues. While I agree with you in part, we do not pay the attention necessary to what is happening as our children die in the streets, because they aren’t killing each other in the suburbs yet, I simply do not believe we can compare these two terrible acts.

      By the way yes Carl, I can imagine.

    • Carl, I think we’re more used to the kind of crimes you describe. What is so utterly jolting about this case is that it involved small children. When it happens in such mass numbers. That’s what I think makes it national news and a national tragedy.

  6. When I was young and in CCD (religious class for Catholics) one of my fellow students asked why someone would kill another person. Our instructor told us all people who murder are crazy. That is the first thing I thought of when I heard of this shooting, which has become more heartbreaking and gut wrenching with every new detail. I once worked with a woman whose husband used to hear voices in his head. He thought people were hunting him down trying to kill him. He ended up committing suicide to stop the voices. For me the only logical explanation for Adam Lanza to do this was he also heard voices in his head and did not see these precious children as they really were. Why his mother didn’t recognize that he needed help and made the decision to keep weapons and ammunition in her house we will never know.
    I don’t have children of my own, but there are many little children that attend the gym where I work out. It is hard for me to not scoop them up and hug them as they skip past me so carefree and innocent. Instead, I glance at their parents to see if they too realize how sweet and precious they are. I think they do.

    • Savvy, I am a single mother and it has never occurred to me to have guns in my home because of it. The shooter’s mom loaded up on guns for “protection.” And, for protection she took her sons to practice shooting. I wonder what she’d think to know that all that time she was teaching her son how to kill. And, I’m so with you. Why would she keep these weapons in her home, knowing her son had issues? It’s unfathomable.

  7. Monica, I’ve been in pain since Friday. It took a while to sink in as I was Christmas shopping for my girls when my girlfriend who lives in New Jersey called me with the news. I took the girls to a play date after school with moms who are my friends. We were a somber lot, as we watched our kids play – their ages 7- 9. We usually laugh and giggle, but we couldn’t. We couldn’t imagine leaving our babies at school and getting that call. We couldn’t imagine the pain in the hearts of the parents who lost their precious little ones. How do you even begin to heal? Christmas will never be the same for any of us, we may go on, but how can they?

    How did it come to this? then again, this has been happening a lot recently. How did this troubled young boy’s mom own seven guns? Why did she feel they were necessary, when she was aware her child had behavioral issues early on? How do you go into a school and shoot a teacher in front of those tiny beings? Then shoot 20 more? How do you arm yourself as if going to battle? What was the mind saying at that point, that he thought he had to destroy so many innocent lives? I’m at a loss. I feel so helpless, I can only hug my girls a little tighter everyday.
    I’m going to read the letter you wrote now, your questions are mine, as well.

    • MM, there are no words to convey the depth of pain we are collectively experiencing. I like Ann Curry’s idea of 20 acts of kindness for each of the children lost. She tweeted it and it’s taken off.

  8. A very sad time indeed. I’ve been following the story here and there and keep thinking these kids were supposed to be enjoying one of the happiest times of the year for kids. And those teachers were trying to protect them. The principal confronted the gunman head on. It’s just so awful and there’s no way to make sense out of killing babies.

  9. Hello Monica

    I looked at the unfolding of the tragedy as it was reported over here in the UK in total disbelief that such a thing could happen, and equally importantly why it happened.

    Unfortunately the one person who can answer is himself dead and beyond questioning. So all we can do is speculate and ask ourselves why.

    Personally when I saw that it was reported that the murderer was a loner I can’t say I was surprised. As a race we humans are fast loosing the ability to communicate and reach out to each other on a personal basis, we are in many cases wrapped up in our own electronic world.

    I was reminded of a conversation I heard a little while ago on a bus where a mother was saying to her fellow passenger that her daughter played with the neighbours daughter two houses away most evenings, she said they spent their playing time chatting to each other on their computers and playing on-line games with each other. I was shocked that two children living so close would play without any physical contact with each other.

    Instead of sitting down on the phone and having a chat with a friend we send them an email or an instant message, that’s terrible there is nothing to match hearing a friends voice, saying hello to a neighbour or just somebody passing.

    Whatever problems the person had who committed this crime it’s a shame for both him and the victims that there was nobody he thought he could talk to. Or perhaps he thought nobody would listen. Or even worse when he tried to talk nobody did listen.

    It’s a tragedy that we as a race are losing the ability and I think and in some cases the desire to communicate on a personal basis. As somebody once said death does not just affect the dead, and in this instance that is so true, those children had their whole lives in front of them wiped out in a heartbeat, they are at peace, their families must live with the grief for the rest of their lives, that is tragic, I don’t know how they feel and to be honest I hope I never find out with a personal experience. But even though I am an atheist and as such don’t celebrate Christmas my thoughts will be with the families over this holiday season which for them should have been so enjoyable and now will be a time of grief and mutual support.

    A lovely blog again from you Monica just a shame it’s about such a tragic event.

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