My father is dying. The many physical failures of his eighty-five-year-old body have gained control in a way no medical intervention can defeat. He has a health directive in place so our family waits. In this holiday month a Christmas tree lights his apartment and seasonal music has become lullaby and comforter.
After the first assault of pictures, he will not watch the news from Connecticut. He said “We’ve seen this before” and asked the channel be changed. After growing up in a family of hunters and serving in both World War II and the Korean conflict, he has never owned a gun and doesn’t believe people living in the United States need guns in their homes. While more lucid earlier this week we spoke about a two year old boy killed by a brother only twice that age with a gun found under their father’s pillow. My father was saddened by the event.
My tears yesterday and today come from the sadness my very small family is experiencing, and for the horrific grief families in Newtown will carry forward for so many decades.
How sad to think that as a nation we have nothing to offer these families. No hope that there won’t be another massacre. No government protection of innocent lives against weapons meant to kill many people with minimal effort. We are not safe—not in movie theaters, shopping malls, colleges, churches, kindergarten classrooms. Powerful individuals with deep pockets of money have better friends in our government than young parents of beautiful children. If President Obama visits Newtown, I would have him bring every member of our Senate and ask each of them to sit for an hour with the family of a victim, to comfort a now childless mother or motherless child, and to carry that memory every day of their lives. To be simply human among real people.
When people ask what they can do for my family, I ask for their thoughts and prayers. That’s appropriate when losing our patriarch. When I ask what I can do for the families of Newtown, prayer seems like a less than satisfying offering. But they are in my prayers.