Our children

They released his name. 24 years old. He’s on Facebook with 115 friends, likes the video game Mass Effect and Guns and Roses and The 39 steps. He wore black sunglasses, a winter beenie, it looked cold were he was in the photo, he looked up and off into the distance at something no one else could see. Ryan Lanza had an artists page. People liked it. People liked him. And then immediately the page was gone. Erased in error like he never existed.
I refreshed and refreshed, but nothing.

When I searched his name and he actually came up, my heart quickened like I was looking at something I shouldn’t. But I clicked anyway because I wanted to know who he was.
He was like any normal person. Any normal person out in the world on Facebook with friends and likes and photos. He lived in Hoboken. He grew up in a small town in Connecticut that before today, I had never heard of, and after, became the second worse school massacre in our country.
He had friends in college. His mom was a kindergarten teacher. He walked into her classroom on a Friday morning with two guns by his side. Killed her and unloaded the rest of his bullets into children probably learning their alphabet and decorating Christmas cards for their parents and eating goldfish crackers. They were probably warm inside watching the morning thaw, their coats probably hung under their names by the door. Their winter boots underneath that creating the perfect outline of something innocent waiting to fill it. At 9:30 AM how long until recess?

I can’t do anything else today. I’m supposed to be, but I can’t. I’m just staring at the news and updating websites and how in God’s name, how can anyone hold so much pain and anger in themselves to inflict such violence on other people, on children?
What happened to Ryan? What snapped? What broke him so badly? Why are there so many mass murders? So many young males doing it? What is happening to them? Or us? To children being raised around so much violence? Why is the NRA one of the biggest lobbyists in Washington? How many more horrible tragedies have to occur before officials hacks their tendrils from this country’s gun laws? Why is it easier to get a weapon than help?

We will never know what happened to Ryan. He is dead. Along with 18 elementary school children.

One of Ryan’s brothers is also dead in Hoboken. The Sandy Hook elementary school’s principal and psychologist. Ryan went to this school as a child. What happened to you, Ryan? The people he targeted: Mother, brother, principal, psychologist. People one would look to in need. But when is that line crossed – the victim transform to villain and why?

As I write this 2 more children died in the hospital. Small broken bodies, clinging to a life hardly lived. Boots and coats waiting for them under names that won’t ever age beyond their 5 years, names we’ll never know, but carry like shrapnel. This country is shrapnel. And as I write this they’re saying Ryan’s name maybe wasn’t Ryan at all, that the shooter possibly stole his brother’s ID and carried it with him into his hell. Whatever his name was or turns out to be – Ryan, Eric, Thomas, Adam – it doesn’t matter. He was broken, too and wanted us to feel it. How many more young people out there are suffering?

I watched the President on the news. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. The text under his face said “heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds” Tonight we are going to do what every parent needs to do “hug our children.”

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