Friday, December 14th, 2012, was like any other morning. I got up and got ready for work. I turned on the news and heard that there had been a mass shooting at an elementary school and I froze when I saw that six people were injured. I went to work. I work at NBCUniversal, so news was coming in pretty steadily by this time. I listened as the body count climbed from six to eighteen, and eighteen to twenty, and twenty to twenty-six. I fought back tears when I heard that twenty of the casualties were children. I fought back tears again when I sat in a conference call and heard “Why aren’t we promoting on social? Cause of those kids? Come on!”
There was a mass of misinformation that day. No one could figure out if the shooter’s mother was involved at the school, if there was a second shooter, if there was a motive, etc. It didn’t matter, though. Nothing really mattered. I went home and, for the first time, cried over an American tragedy. I tried to do anything that might take my mind off of that Friday’s events, but everything took such effort. I just wanted to stay in bed. Nothing mattered. When I did venture out and I saw people walking I couldn’t fathom how they were doing it. Did they not know? Maybe they just don’t watch the news, because that’s the only explanation, right?
By the time Sunday came, we had all the information we were probably going to get. It was a single shooter—he used a Bushmaster assault rifle, and he put anywhere from three to eleven holes in the bodies of six- and seven-year-olds. Teachers told their students that they loved them so it would be the last thing they heard—not gun shots. She told them to wait for the good guys, and that they would be coming. Teachers formed human shields around children, and they read them stories and gave them lollipops. “We thought it would be our last snack,” one seven year old told a reporter. A 27-year-old teacher hid her students in cupboards and a closet then told the gunman that her “students [were] in the gym” before she, herself, was gunned down. Children spoke of how they heard the shooter banging on the locked closet door, screaming “Let me in!” One sweet six year old girl hid under the bodies of her fifteen classmates. When the police arrived, she ran to her mom and said, “Mommy, I’m okay but all my friends are dead.” One student offered, “I know karate! I’ll lead the way out.” The Principal and School Psychologist even charged the shooter. They charged him, but the rapid-fire weapon won out over their bravery. Parents gathered at the firehouse, waiting to embrace their children. They matched up children ages, five to ten, with their parents. What was left was twenty parents without their babies and that’s how they began identifying the bodies.
This past Monday, the funerals began. The bodies were finally identified (by photographs, because no parent should remember their child with eleven military-grade bulletholes in them) and released. Stories came out about Jack Pinto, a six-year-old boy whose favorite football player was Victor Cruz of the NY Giants. That night, Cruz dedicated a game to Jack and wrote his name on his gloves and cleats before heading to Newtown to see his family. Jack was buried in a replica Cruz jersey. Jessica Rekos, another six-year-old, loved horses. Her parents promised her that on her tenth birthday she would get a pony. For Christmas, Jessica asked for cowgirl boots and a cowgirl hat. Seven-year-old Daniel Barton wanted to be a fireman. At his funeral on Wednesday morning, New York firefighters were there, standing clad in dress blue uniforms, many with white gloves to honor Daniel.
Emilie Parker, another victim, loved drawing and carried her markers everywhere. Her father spoke to the press over the weekend. He said, “I am so lucky to be your dad,” present tense, which psychologies will tell you means he hasn’t accepted she’s gone—or in his past. He also said to the Lanza family, the family of the shooter that took his six-year-old little girl from him, “I can’t imagine how hard this experience must be for you, and I want you to know that our family and our love and our support goes out to you as well.”
So far we know that Nancy Lanza, the mother of the shooter Adam Lanza, was a good, kind, generous woman that vowed to be her son’s caretaker for life. She was a gun enthusiast and kept them in a gun locker in her basement. She didn’t work so she could monitor Adam, who had difficulties. She was in the process of having Adam committed at the time and this is being looked at as a possible motive for what Adam did. I mention Nancy Lanza because she, too, was a victim. I think the gutting number of twenty children ages six and seven makes us forget that seven adults died as well.
Naturally, this has sparked gun debates, healthcare debates, cultural debates, and parenting debates. But I don’t care. I don’t care about these debates. I don’t care anymore. I know this has happened fifteen times this year. I know something has to be done but I don’t care to debate it anymore. I …