The unthinkable has re-occurred. Another school is the backdrop to a horrific crime scene. Today in Virginia, someone decided take a gun and snuff out the lives of about 31 people attending a local Technical College. Many more are wounded and receiving emergency medical care at nearby hospitals.
Today, there are parents in this world who are crying out loud, groaning under the weight of grief, as they come to learn that it was their child who was shot and killed at school. Today, there are parents in this world who are temporarily left to draw their own conclusions, not knowing if their child is safe or dead, and frantically searching for answers. Others have discovered that by some miracle, their child is safe and sound, and will then wrestle with the conflicting feelings that come when you are intensely grateful that your child is safe, while still grieving over such a horrendous act and the losses that occurred.
There are young adults who narrowly escaped being in the wrong area at the wrong time, and were able to leave the campus without harm. There are others, who, in taking cover from the flying bullets, laid low on the ground beside someone who was not so lucky, and became the last gentle touch the person received before the last breath escaped their lips. There are kids who were meant to bring about positive change in the world and peace to those in need, who can no longer do that. They were shot and killed by a single person who altered the lives of hundreds, with the pull of a finger.
I think one of the saddest parts of this terrible event, besides the immensely terrible event itself, is the fact that, to some degree, many people will read the headlines of this day, pause from sipping their coffee for a few minutes, comment on what a tragedy this is, and then go about their day as they had planned previous to reading the headline. The re-occurring theme of fatal school shootings has, to just a small degree, hardened our hearts. We've stopped aching as deeply. We've found ways to file these kind of events away in our minds so that it doesn't dominate our thoughts as long. Perhaps it's a coping mechanism so that we don't spend all our life in mourning. Perhaps it's because we're allowing ourselves to be dulled by such horrific acts as we see them happening more often. Or perhaps it's an interesting combination of both.
My hope is that we never get to a point where we will casually read over events such as these and find ourselves beyond feeling shock and horror over it. Even when the act is in another country acutely affecting people we will never know, I hope it will always seep into our souls just enough to remind us of how fragile life is, urging us to better appreciate our relationships with friends and family, and extend ourselves to help heal the want in others so there is less pain. I hope we can, as fellow humans, mourn for the lost children, ache for the sorrowed parents, and be vulnerable for the survivors. We're all connected. We are all neighbours.