My younger sister gave birth by c-section to a beautiful 8lb 2oz baby girl, Kendall Reese on Tuesday morning. But in the night between Thursday and Friday, she informed everyone through facebook that a growth had been diagnosed in Kendall’s throat, which was making breathing and eating uncomfortable for her. She was taken by emergency-helicopter to a different hospital while my sister and her husband followed by ambulance. An ENT showed the tumor was a continuation of her tongue tissue and is wrapped around some of her vocal cords and esophagus. The first (and hopefully last) surgery is scheduled for today.
Then Friday night, France time, I read the very first facebook comment about the tragedies befalling Sandy Hook Elementary and began following coverage. I was born and raised in Connecticut, just visited there this summer, and the majority of friends and family on my personal facebook page live there. Some of them just minutes away from Newtown. Some of them knowing or having frequented the older victims in passing. It is a small world, after all. And I watched and cried with the rest of the nation as the details grew more devastating and unimaginable.
The story made the headlining news here in France, as well. The sorrow in losing such young lives so senselessly is universal and many of my French friends and family are asking me difficult questions about how I feel: about the tragedy in my state, and our president, and especially about gun control in the U.S.- the 2nd amendment seeming forever foreign and unnecessary to the French.
And the truth is, while I’m not sure what measures will be most effective or what the true debate here should be, I understand that all of the uprising of opinions and the pointing of fingers are coming from the same place.
The cry for less guns, more guns, better mental health care, better preparation for schools and teachers...I know that all of these people raising their voices in debate, no matter what their stands, are reacting to the same deep, universal pain, sorrow, anger, and incomprehension residing in each and every one of us. We all feel the same things. And we all have different ways of showing it. Of coping. And seated even deeper than the pain and outrage, is compassion, empathy, and a desire to help others- in short, it’s love.
And as long as it’s coming from a place of love, I will try to understand. I will not judge how others choose to cope during this difficult time, even if it differs greatly from my own. I’m choosing to stay tolerant and open and compassionate to every person on each side of the spectrum because I know that everyone is struggling to make sense of it all, in their own way.
Today I’m praying hard for my baby niece, my sister and her family- praying that this first operation is successful so that baby Kendall won’t need anymore. And I’m praying for the souls lost, the families and community left broken in the wake of this tragedy. And for the parents, children, and teachers of my nation who are facing a most difficult Monday morning- filled with grief and questions that may never have answers.