I wrapped up my week long blood pattern analysis conference on Friday in Ocean City. My group worked hard to interpret a mock crime scene and create a PowerPoint to the class. We took one final test and I scored a 64/65, so I was pretty happy with my score. We were released early, so after filling up my car with gas, I would be on my way to see my baby boys, who I missed so terribly much. They had a Christmas party at their daycare at 4:30, so I was on a tight schedule. I was standing in line at the gas station waiting to pay for my snacks when a woman in front of me mentioned a shooting at a school in Connecticut. I hadn’t heard anything about it, and instantly pulled up my local news app on my phone to read the story while I waited. The blood drained from my body and I remember feeling numb when I read the details…. at that time there were 18 children confirmed dead and several teachers. My hand covered my mouth and I felt the tears rush to my eyes. A woman next to me must have seen my reaction and she asked me if she could also read the article on my phone. I stood there, next to a stranger, sharing this moment that I haven’t been able to shake ever since. I could feel myself getting emotional, so as soon as the cashier rang up my purchases, I hit the road. I frantically searched the unfamiliar radio stations to find a news channel that was covering the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. The somber tone in the announcer’s voice just shook me to my core. The details were scarce but you could tell everyone was trying to figure out, “Why?” What would lead someone to do this? All those children, hell, just babies, really. As a mom, I was and still am torn apart. I can’t imagine what those families are going through. It’s just total devastation and so many lives will never be the same again. The holidays will likely always be a sad time, rather than a season filled with family memories and traditions.
As I continued to drive the three hours home, I heard the President Obama’s first remarks and the emotion in his voice and I absolutely lost it. Tears were streaming down my face and my vision blurred. I forced myself to hold it together, because traveling on highway speeds deserves full attention and care and I was determined to get to my boys and arrive safely. I questioned whether or not to turn the news off, since it was so upsetting, but how exactly does one change the station and sing along to Maroon 5 or Justin Bieber when so many are devastated and suffering? It reminds me of September 11, 2001. The entire school day was spent watching the coverage on TV and that evening, I was scheduled to waitress at the restaurant where I was employed. I remember being very annoyed by the fact that I had to serve people who felt it was appropriate to go out to dinner mere hours after our country was attacked by terrorists. How do you just carry on with life as usual?
I was so happy to be reunited with my family and spent the weekend giving extra long hugs and just taking in their sweet, innocent baby scent in an attempt to ingrain the smell in my brain forever. Even now, 4 days after the shooting, the pain is still fresh. Watching various tributes and reading the eloquent words of others can invoke tears all over again.
In my line of work, I am surrounded by violence, death and the illegal acts of others on a daily basis. You would think that I would be desensitized to these mass shootings but last Friday’s events knocked me flat on my ass. I think we become so much more aware of the fragility of life once we bring life into the world. Before I had my boys, nothing about my job used to bother me, but now, I have a more difficult time dealing with certain situations, especially if they involve children. Lots of things will affect me much differently than they used to. It’s hard to witness graphic and gory scenes and then carry on, like life as usual. After a while, these images that are seared into your brain start to make you question your career choice. How much can one person handle? Don’t get me wrong, it’s very rewarding to obtain justice for those who have died at the hands of another, but bearing the weight of these devastating events and carrying them around with you just gets to be too much sometimes. Even though we’re expected to leave our work at work, it’s hard. Some cases just stay with you.
The shooting in Connecticut was just so senseless and the victims were all truly innocent and only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope that their deaths weren’t in vain and that this tragedy will bring forth real change to current gun laws and reform to the way people with mental illness are treated. I hope the families take time to grieve and take solace in the fact that the entire nation is behind them and sending prayers their way. I also hope that the first responders, emergency personnel and staff at the medical examiner’s office are able to get the counseling they undoubtedly need after witnessing such a gruesome crime.
Rest In Peace
Charlotte Bacon (6), Daniel Barden (7), Rachel Davino (29), Olivia Engel (6), Josephine Gay(7), Ana M. Marquez-Greene (6), Dylan Hockley (6), Dawn Hocksprung (47), Madeleine F. Hsu (6), Catherine V. Hubbard (6), Chase Kowalski (7), Jesse Lewis (6), James Mattioli (6), Grace McDonnell (7), Anne Marie Murphy (52), Emilie Parker (6), Jack Pinto (6), Noah Pozner (6), Caroline Previdi (6), Jessica Rekos (6), Avielle Richman (6), Lauren Russeau (30), Mary Sherlach (56), Victoria Soto (27), Benjamin Wheeler (6), Allison N. Wyatt (6)