Lump in My Throat

There’s a lump lodged in my throat.

The gymnasium was packed on Friday morning at my son’s elementary school in Fair Lawn, NJ. The large crowd had gathered for the annual holiday show. The show, which began at 9:00 a.m., featured each grade from K-5 performing a song to celebrate Christmas and Channukah. There was dancing and speeches as well.

Children beamed with pride as they performed the numbers that they clearly had spent time preparing. Teachers nodded with satisfaction. Family members smiled, waved, and photographed.

My 6-year-old son’s kindergarten class took the stage last. He sang, did the hand motions, and bopped with the music. He blew a kiss to my wife from the stage and had her heart.

Joy, innocence, cheer. These words summarize the Holiday Performance. Everyone left happy.

The scene, the numbers, the insanity of it all makes the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School seem earth-shattering. Six- and seven-year-olds, shot multiple times. They probably loved cotton candy, Lego, and Spongebob. What did they dream? What did they wish for? What did they hope?

These mass shooting tragedies are getting too high to count. We shake our head and pity those involved. Then, the incidents meld into each other. And the number of victims and families torn asunder add up. What do we as a nation do to deal with our collective survivor’s guilt? Surely every parent has embraced their child a little tighter thankful for the opportunity to do so while wondering about the horror of those parents who no longer have that blessing.

Maybe, we can’t send our children to school anymore. Or the mall. Or the movie theatre. Maybe, we should all lock our doors and go on Facebook. A virtual connection is at least a safe connection.

Of course, living a completely isolated life is practically impossible and undesirable. So, instead, there will be talk.

We’ll get advice and details over the next few days. Pundits will pontificate, police will report, and politicians will bloviate. What can they tell us? This is why it happened, we have it covered, keep living, it’s okay to be scared, etc. Does that make anyone feel better? Does anyone feel safe now?

A mass tragedy can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. That is the lesson learned from this horror. Period.

On Monday morning, I will enter the classroom where I serve as a teacher. Certainly, I will teach a lesson, hope the students learn, encourage them to participate, remind them of homework, and push them to try their best. However, the mark of a successful class will be everyone walking out safely together when the bell rings.

The world has changed.

I have a lump in my throat, and it is not going away.

32 thoughts on “Lump in My Throat

  1. Oh man, do I agree with you on this. It’s just not a safe world that we live in. People die every day, but the madness of a school shooting just seems like too much to imagine.

    I just keep thinking about those parents… They probably had presents bought and wrapped and were waiting in anticipation for their child to open those gifts on Christmas morning… Ugh. A lump in my throat too.

  2. It makes you question if going to work is safe.
    Ok we think a police officers job is dangerous a fire fighter sure they risk their lives everyday.
    But who would of though us teachers have to worry now if we will make it put the classroom alive.
    Such a sad situation 🙁

  3. beautifully written. I’m sitting here trying to think of the right way to capture my feelings after reading your post but can’t quite think of the right words. I can’t imagine the experience of having to teach in an elementary school right after this tragedy. Not that we’re quantifying our reactions, but I hope you know what I mean – just different reactions to this senseless tragedy. Again, beautifully written post.

  4. Thank you Larry, I’ve struggled for days to put this into words, and they just won’t come. You said it graciously and to the point without going over any line. Just this week in my area, two such, very real actions were stopped before the they could take place, thanks to others taking action instead of ignoring the threats, one in Maryland, one in Virginia.
    We must be diligent and teach our children, to report anything we or they know or hear. Not just now, but forever.
    I feel I must say this as well. I teach my grandchildren to pray silently in school, as prayer is no .
    longer allowed in school. I teach them to invite God back in everyday, and provide them and their classmates protection. Prayer cannot be stopped in one’s heart, no matter what the government dictates.
    It’s what we can do as good citizens.

    Blessings, Pat

    • Thanks so much for your heartfelt response.
      At first, I had problems with this – why did G-d let it happen? I can’t say I understand now but my faith helps me. I remember that G-d has a plan even when I don’t understand or like it.

  5. I have hardly been able to think about the tragedy, every time I do my heart aches for all those parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. I’ve seen up close what the loss of a child can do to a family and I hope with all my heart that they will find a way through it.

  6. I too have a pain in my heart over this. I tear up every time I hear something, read something or even think about it. I wonder if there’s a word for feeling the pain for people that you’ve never met.

  7. Hi,
    The world for most Americans has changed but for many children living in Africa, in the Asian countries and even some parts of Europe, this reality hit a long time ago. This doesn’t mean that I look down on what happened at Sandy Hook. It means that my heart bleeds for all the children in the world who die because of violence against them. It is horrible and the tears within my heart continue to flow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *