I'm going to preface writing this by saying that I'm anti-guns. Especially anti-assault rifles. But more importantly, I'm sad. I have this anguish that has washed over me, knowing that 20 families have lost a child, and six more have lost a family member they care about. In the end, that is what this is about.
Do you remember what it was like to be 8 years old?
Not in a "hey, look at tiny me" kind of way. I'm talking about who you were, the dreams you had, the thoughts you had, when you were 8 years old.
The entire world was in front of us. We didn't realize it, either. That was the greatest thing about being young. You exist on earth. You are human. That, in and of itself is a big deal. But you, at that age, are only tasked with living in the moment.
Everything about life seemed so much bigger. Doors were harder to open. Your parents rose above you like mountains. You ran and played and enjoyed life in the only way you knew how. Who cares what is going on tomorrow, because the sun is still out today!
Our world only made sense because there were people in our lives to tell us how it made sense. Teachers, parents, family members. Beyond that, the world was ruled by our own imagination.
It would be amazing. To still have the imagination of an 8-year-old. To dream that you were going to be a baseball player someday, or a doctor, or a fire fighter. To wake up in the morning and jump on your bed. Go outside and play in the snow. Run, cut your knee, and go home and have someone take care of it and make things all better.
And to have that unconditional love of your family. At that age, you didn't even know it. You knew it, but you didn't know it. You hadn't yet gotten old enough to become jaded by that, turned off by the notion in your teenage years. You didn't know how much you meant to those people. But you knew you mattered to them, because when bad things happened, they were the people you would run home to, to make things better.
But what happens when life doesn't make sense, and something happens. And you aren't able to wipe your tears away and run home? 20 children weren't able to go home to their families today.
Twenty children who don't have the ability to go home after school today and tell their parents that they love them, not even knowing that their mom or dad's heart melts just to hear it.
Twenty children who had their dreams. Their imagination. Their life. Wiped away in a moment. Becoming a tragic statistic in a tragic situation.
And to those teachers and adults at the school who gave the ultimate sacrifice to help save the children they could, you can't help but bow your head a little and have a small tear well up on the side of your eye. What would you do in that situation? Would you hide? Would you fight?
Nobody knows how they will react in those situations because, luckily, most people will never be forced to endure that decision in their brain, their heart, and their soul.
These people decided that today they were going to be heroes. They didn't even know they were going to be heroes. The enormity of the moment couldn't have possibly stuck them. They simply heard gun shots, and reacted. They gave their lives to save others. And the ultimate tragedy is, that more people will know the name of the man who took so many lives, rather than the ones that risked theirs.
In their world, children develop the skills necessary to transition into adolescence and later, adulthood. How many children are scarred now? Not from a bullet slicing through their bodies, but instead, the type of scar that can't be seen by the human eye. It goes deeper. It's psychological.
When you are young, you are living in this bubble. You never think bad things can happen. Your understanding of death is more vague and less comprehended. It can't be justified. Not at that age. And now, children will grow up having that scar within them.
But at least, they will feel their parents wrap their arms around them tonight. At least they can continue to live and dream and get better. Get bigger. Get older.
But for 20 children, a flame that, at that age feels eternal, is extinguished. And it happens all too often. Since Columbine, there have been 31 school shooting in the United States.
There have been 14 in the entire rest of the world.
These kids will never know why they were targeted. They will never know the senselessness of it all know. At that age, you can't possibly understand why adults need to have guns to make up for inferiority they feel in other aspects of their own life. And they will certainly never understand mental sickness.
John Lennon once sang of a Utopian society. He was shot and killed.
In a way though, Lennon was right. That society exists. It exists in the mind of a child who doesn't understand racism, guns, hate, violence, and drugs. It exists in every kid who goes out and plays with his friends at recess. Who sits with their friends on the bus. And in the kids who go home and play with their friends at home.
The worst thing that can happen to them, in their minds, is that they get grounded and can't do these things.
I'm glad I've grown and become the person that I am today. And I know that being a kid, having an imagination, and having loving and caring family and friends helped make me the person I am today. And that brings a tear to my eye.
Because I'm just a person. Nobody is going to read this and decide that assault rifles are wrong and get rid of the ones they one. Nobody is going to take the things I say to heart and try to help change things for the better.
But who knows, someday, one of those children could have done just that. They could have helped end racism. Helped end gun violence. Helped end drug abuse.
You know why? Because they had no clue they couldn't. That's the great thing about an imagination. Impossible doesn't exist. But for twenty families tonight, imagination won't bring their kid back. It won't bring their kid running in the door after school. It won't bring back their dinners and helping them with their homework.
In terms of trying to deal with it all, I'll get up, and continue my life. I'll do so with the heaviest of hearts, because no matter what, I can't understand how those families feel tonight. I can't understand that sorrow. I can't understand that pain. All I can do is try to keep existing, and try to keep caring.
And I'll be angry because this could have been stopped. I'm remorseful because we will never know what those kids could have done with a world that was ahead of them. And, I'm sad because it's so easy for me to take the family and friends I have for granted and that it takes things like this to make me realize it.