It’s the question on everyone’s mind today as we grapple with the Connecticut school shootings.
Why innocent kids? This follows on the heels of the first.
When the mind is confronted with a tragedy of this magnitude, there are more questions than answers.
And yet “Why?” seldom brings closure. It rarely helps us tie up all the loose ends. It cannot even begin to touch the human anguish that follows in the wake of a senseless loss…or, in this case, total devastation.
I believe the spirits of the twenty children and six adults whose human lives were erased in a matter of minutes would like us to pause. Reflect. Contemplate. Move up a notch or two on the scale of consciousness.
To my mind, “What?” is a better question to ask when “Why?” has exhausted its possibilities, and also you.
What are we meant to learn from this?
What is our response in this moment?
What must we do next?
I think of the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers whose hearts will never, ever beat the same again.
What were the last words of a child as she waved goodbye that morning?
Did a dad remember to say “I love you” before he dropped off his second-grader to school that morning?
Was a mom upset with her daughter’s choice of clothes that day?
Trivial moments, trivial choices. And yet, it is these moments and messages that become significant milestones in ways we never imagined.
Think about it. How often we utter a casual “bye” to our children, our fingers and minds occupied with an all-too-important text message?
Do we take a precious moment to look into our partner’s eyes and speak the words “I love you” with true feeling as they’re leaving for work? Or, has it become one more perfunctory habit, as mundane and monotonous as teeth-brushing?
A goodbye is a luxury. Not all of us get to say it. It is the quality of the goodbyes they said that those Connecticut parents will obsess over now. Not whether their child’s homework was all done or their clothes color-coordinated.
So, if there’s one lesson we can walk away with, I invite you to consider this one. Never, ever take your loved ones for granted. Don’t delude yourself that they’re going to be around forever…or you. Value the moments. Cherish what’s right here, right now. Don’t put off that call you need to make today. Write that long-overdue email/letter so someone can read your words before it’s too late.
When all is said and done, that is all that really matters. It is all that ever has.
Make a change now. If you’re holding onto a grudge, let it go. Make up. Forgive. Tell the truth. Own up. Embrace the people you care about.
Choose peace over being right. Choose to stay connected instead of isolating yourself. Reach out. Love. Care and share.
Death comes when it must. It doesn’t always arrive with a warning. Don’t let the forgotten goodbye or apology be the regret you live with.
Visit www.umagirish.com for a copy of my book Understanding Death: 10 Ways to Inner Peace for the Grieving which gives you more tools to make peace with the agony that accompanies the passing of a loved one.