Always Choose Love: Sandy Hook Year Three: Missing Lauren

Monday, December 14, 2015

The day Lauren died was a week before Matilda entered the world. It was the day after my Beatrix's second birthday, and less than two months after the death of my mother.

The maelstrom of pregnancy emotions and raw grief put me on alert as soon as news about the shooting began hitting social media. Newtown is very close to where I live and work, and I had attended church there for years.

Before learning of my sweet friend's demise I understood the chances of someone familiar to me being involved was moderately high. I viewed images coming from the site of the shooting with trepidation.

The call came the next day, mid-morning. The grapevine had already given us tentative news of Lauren's death. She had been at the school, and no one had heard from her in over 24 hours. Her Facebook timeline was filled with, "we are worried about you" and "please let us know you're ok" messages. Death notices by social media are a terrible byproduct of our digitized socialization.

On December 15th I listened to the news, coming from the disembodied voice of one of my co-workers and I had to lean against the wall. I could not stand up unsupported.

I was home alone, except for the baby growing inside of me. I sat upstairs in my bathroom and cried; deep, ugly, wretched tears. More tears than I had shed for my mother or my dead daughter's birthday.

There is a subtle difference in death when it is the result of mass murder. Fetal anomalies, old age and alcoholism are all deaths you can {somewhat} rationalize about. You can pin-point a place in the timeline where things seemed to go wrong, and while the loss is still unacceptable you can reason with yourself regarding the state-of-being of the persons involved. You can still feel a sense of control in the universe.

Mass murder leaves you completely disoriented. It leaves you fearful when you walk into crowded places. It leaves you watchful of people who seem "off" and backpacks left on park benches. The most innocent of actions are now viewed suspiciously, and just like I can not relate to friends who become pregnant and have never experienced loss, I can no longer relate to those who walk around blithely unaware of the tenuous grasp we have on security in the public sphere.

Murder leaves you with a profound understanding of how out-of-control death really is. You can not fool yourself that we healthy eat our way out of death; neither can you walk in a safe place out of it, or lock doors against it.

It reminds us that our deaths are not our own.

We should always remember that. We can be in the midst of a beautiful experience, only to have it ripped from our hands in a single moment.

My friend Lauren was having the best year of her life. She "went out" like a shooting star, with all of us trailing in an arc behind her like so many dying pieces of stone.

We were so briefly illuminated by her.

Lauren died loving what she was doing, but I can't pretend her happiness with her situation makes her death acceptable, in some cosmic way.

It will always be a terribly wrong event. Violence is very rarely the answer to anything, and aggression is most definitely not to be tolerated.

There is so much ugly in the world, so many lonely people out there who would blossom of we just gave them some of our precious time. I wish someone had stopped his sickness in time to save my friend. I wish someone had broken through his illness and made him understand how unacceptable aggression really was.

Doing so could have changed December 14, 2012 for all of us.

We each have the option of being catalysts for good.

Loving people in actions as well as words is difficult for most of us -- Lauren made it look so easy.

I loved my friend, and in her memory I will try to seek the joy in life she found. Spreading that joy to others who may not have enough of their own is the best way to honor her life.

Please take a moment today to reach out to someone who may be suffering, especially the lonely. Holidays often bring out both the best and worst in people.

I am so glad to have known someone so beautiful, both inside and out, who can serve as a constant reminder of what a smile and a bit of kindness can give to the world.

We may have no choice in the matter of our death, but we always have the choice to love.

Today, in honor of all those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook, I choose love.

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