I spoke with our son, Fireman Nick, today. He called me to tell me about the services he attended today, in Connecticut, for one of the small victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. It was unbearable, he said. The casket was just too small, he said. How does this happen, he said.
I have only been able to gaze at the pictures of these children for short spurts of time. It’s probably the same for you. Evil entered that school and gunned down innocents. You’ve read the stories. I won’t repeat them.
One of the things my son and I spoke about is how, as his career develops, he will, more than likely, face similar circumstances. Maybe not a shooting. But an accident where a small child has died. How do you prepare for such a thing? And what do you do with that kind of experience afterwards?
How many first responders showed up at that school, went in, and found the soul-wrenching carnage? I hope enough is being done for them, as much as can be done for them. It will be a life-long process, I have no doubt, dealing with the images seared into their hearts and minds. These responders, the police, the fire departments, the EMTs, have been attending the funerals as they’ve played out over this last week. I’ve been thinking of them a lot.
My heart ached for Fireman Nick. Being a mom, trying to help your child, I don’t care how old they are, parse through an experience such as this-where do you go with that? What do you say that really makes a difference, makes it better? Nothing, really, I think. I told him that I was glad he went to stand in support of the other responders. I’m glad he went for that sweet little girl, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene. There are no words for any of this, we all know that. Such horror and pain have no words. So I told him that what was important was that he went, and he bore witness. Bore witness to the abject sorrow of her parents and brother, her family and friends, her classmates and teachers, her neighbors, her community, the responders who went in, and came out with their hearts shredded, and he bore witness for us, the larger community around this country. He stood there, amongst the almost 5000 people, dressed out in his Class A uniform, and paid his respects.
And maybe tonight, I suggested, what he could do to help his own heart, was to light a candle for that little girl, who is now a part of his memory.