I was heartsick to see another senseless mass shooting when I awoke today. By the end of the weekend, whether we want to or not, we’ll know everything there is to know about the movie theatre shooter. We’ll know if he was on drugs, if he was abused or bullied, recently fired from a job or dumped by a lover. We already know that he was carrying at least 3 weapons and that he booby-trapped his apartment before the spree. We know that he was pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience.
Right there I know 10x more about him than about any of the victims. I hate that fact, but it happens after every tragedy, doesn’t it?
We need to know why. We need something to blame, besides the 3 guns and an obviously disturbed brain. And digesting information about him is something we can DO because we can’t undo the tragedy.
As parents we know we can’t prepare for every eventuality or prevent every bad thing from befalling our children, as much as we wish we could. The parents who lost their children last night could not have done anything differently. A cinema is not normally a dangerous place.
But what do you think about HIS parents? Do you think they could have done something differently? Loved him more or better? Saved him earlier and in turn saved the lives of so many? Don’t we want to know as much about the murderer as possible in the hope that somebody sees the same red flags and stops the next murderer in time?
Someone claiming to be the shooter’s mother called in to a news program saying “you have the right person.” You’d better believe that this woman is about to be all over your TV and papers. Imagine making that call, Mamas? Imagine making that call and saying those words and now spending the rest of your life thinking of all the chances you missed to prevent this? Please don’t misunderstand me. A 24-year-old is his own man, and no one planned the attack and pulled the trigger but he. But tragically, her words say loud and clear that this horrendous crime was no surprise.
It’s near impossible in the throes of these high-needs years to think that there will be a day when I am not intimately involved in every move my sons make. But it will come.
Motherhood does not end. On most days, I like to imagine myself encouraging my post-college children to spread their wings, be independent, have adventures, for God’s sake don’t text me all the time. But today I think of the woman making that phone call. I am more committed than ever to fostering a healthy strong emotional connection with my children. Sons, I promise that I can handle all of you. I am not afraid of big emotions. You don’t have to hide the worst parts of yourself from me. I will be strong for you when you feel weak and while I am living I will always help you.
Rebecca is a wife and mother and community builder. She sends her sincere sympathy and prayers to Aurora,CO.