There are surprisingly few posts on facebook this morning recalling the loss of life in Newtown a year ago. The usual news outlets that show up on my page are quiet, and individual posts are scarce. It's been a long year since that fateful day, and maybe there's really nothing to say that hasn't already been said. Except this.
Nancy and Adam Lanza's family. 99.9% of the stories refer to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook without reaching out to include Adam's first victim, his mother. 26 is an accurate number reflecting the loss at Sandy Hook Elementary School and tells part of the story, but the whole story includes 28 victims. Yes, I'm including Adam in that number because he, too, lost his life by his hand. But it is Nancy that is so frequently excluded, as though to punish her for the actions of her child. It seems that a scapegoat is necessary on occasions such as this, and since she cannot speak for herself she is a convenient target for blame. It's not up to me to determine her culpability, though I don't hold her responsible for Adam's choice.
This morning I am writing because I am mindful of the Lanza family. They lost two of their own, and because of the circumstances surrounding their deaths the family's grief is unbearably private. Is there anyone reaching out to them? Is there anyone offering support when the "if only" questions plague their days and haunt their nights? Have they been shunned by friends, and when this, and other anniversaries break into their cycle of healing do they experience the setbacks of interrupted trust and the kind of isolation over which they are powerless to alter? I wonder if, unbeknown to the rest of us, there is a solidarity among surviving family members from situations similar to this who have no one else to whom they can turn to express their needs and inch toward some kind of normalcy now denied to them.
As compassionate a culture as we can be we are perhaps more cruel to those who don't deserve our disdain. Our penchant for exclusion comes with a price that we all pay, though some more tragically and dearly than others. Today is a day to remember that victims surround us, ready and eager to be survivors through the generosity of compassion each of us can extend. Tomorrow is the day that we begin to extend that memory toward a commitment in practice.
It is my prayer for the Lanzas, and others who trod the path they travel involuntarily, that hands and hearts are reaching out, that prayers are offered on their behalf, and that peace may fill their hearts and days sooner than later.