I understand at this point everyone is very sick and tired of hearing about Sandy Hook, but this happened in my home state and about an hour away from my hometown. I can't not talk about it.
Connecticut is the richest state in the country, and while not all towns in Connecticut have Lambos and Porsches in every front lawn it is an EXTREMELY idyllic place to grow up. I grew up exactly two blocks from the Governor, two blocks away from a breathtaking rose garden, and our house was surrounded by some of the biggest mansions TO THIS DAY I have ever seen. Life in Connecticut isn't normal - it's Norman as in Norman Rockwell. Connecticut (and most of New England for that matter) is like this time capsule away from the rest of the world. All of the buildings are old and pristine adorned with plaques documenting the time they were all erected. (hehe I said erect)
People move to places like Connecticut to escape the crime of the big city, and protect their families. I grew up with super paranoid parents (love you mom and dad) so I was definitely aware of the fact that there was a "boogie" man out there, and that there was always "stranger danger" - but the events on Friday hit me hard.
Really. Really. Really. Hard.
::scooby doo Flashback::
I woke up on Friday morning to seeing a friend in NY posting on Facebook about a school shooting in Connecticut.
I passed it off thinking it was something similar that happened at Cal State Fullerton earlier in the week. It won't be that big of a deal I thought. These things don't happen in Connecticut.
I then put on my running shoes, went for a run, then hit the gym and even while I was there all of the TVs flashed "breaking news." Because the gym is my place to shut off my brain and COMPLETELY disconnect I AGAIN ignored the warnings and kept watching netflix on the elliptical.
I then ran back home and finally decided to see what was going on.
I flipped on NBC and they had broken into all current programming and were explaining in up to the minute reporting all of the actions that had occurred.
At that point there were at least 20 confirmed dead and most were said to be children under the age of 10.
IMMEDIATELY I started bawling. This involuntary compulsion took over my body and I literally got down on my knees as I couldn't believe what I was reading and seeing on the screen.
I sat and watched for about 30 minutes on the floor of our living room in ABSOLUTE shock.
They showed pictures of the parents, and children escaping the school and all I kept thinking was that THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN IN CONNECTICUT!!! And whose moral compass says THIS IS A GOOD THING?!?!?! Even with a slight understanding of moral relativism how could ANYONE with a sane bit of ANYTHING think it is okay to do something like this??!?!?!
I then got an email from my manager telling me that our 3pm had been pushed up to 2:30.
I emailed him back saying that wasn't a problem, but that I hope he hugged his children extra hard today.
Coincidentally he happened to be with his daughter at that very moment so he sent me a lovely picture of them hugging.
I smiled through the tears.
I don't have children, nor did I even until the last year ever even THINK I would have kids. My entire life has always been work, work, work, work hard, do hard, build a business. I told my mom (who is very eager for grandkids) OVER AND OVER to not look at me, and to talk to her son if she wants grandkids. Then, of course, I was proven wrong. Between falling in love and hitting a certain age biologically my body was just ... CHARGED with this reminder that I have to have kids.
I then stared back at the screen and saw children giving interviews and in such a matter of fact way dictating what they had just experienced to the world.
It was like they were my kids, and this UNBELIEVABLE anger came over me. It's animalistic ... and it's this ... DON'T FUCK WITH THE PACK mentality.
I like everyone else wanted answers and wanted them now.
I then got ready for my meeting and stayed quiet on social media. Everything was obviously blowing up with debates on gun control, mental health ... no good is going to come from my comments, I thought. Stay quiet, Friel.
I then went to my meeting choosing to post a neutral message on Facebook ...
I sat with my manager in the lobby and talked to him about the day's events. I can't believe this happened, I said. I'm also surprised they didn't have a "lockdown" procedure. I remember growing up we had something called the "blue and white schedule" and if the principal or anyone came on the PA saying "we were following a blue and white schedule" it meant that the school was on lockdown and we were to wait in our classrooms until we were given further instructions. Did they not have a lockdown procedure? Or did this all just happen too fast?
My manager and I were then called into the meeting and I sat there still in kind of a haze. Now, selling myself, is my jam. I do it morning, noon, and night, and after EASILY the 100th time I have said the same thing, all of these meetings go the exact same way as the one prior. I caught myself a few times repeating certain words and being more "spacey" than normal. Obvi, my manager didn't even pick up on it, let alone the people that we met with - but I couldn't help but sit there and think how ridiculous all of this felt. I'm sitting in a room talking about myself while we are all experiencing this national tragedy. I felt dirty and selfish. I felt like I should have helped, done ... SOMETHING ... but what could I have done? I was scared to publish ANYTHING in social media for fears of sparking a BIG debate (and my fears were confirmed after I got out of the meeting in less than 60 minutes I had over 60 comments on my Facebook wall discussing gun control). I felt so helpless and as someone who doesn't even have children I felt this loss and this need to protect. I've genuinely never experienced anything like it.
So what do we do now?
I don't know. My first instinct was to not talk about it until at least today to provide people with some place to be and escape from EVERYONE else talking about it.
I remember in that meeting, and in every meeting for that matter, people question my lifestyle. How can you just meet people from social media and stay with them? And how did you know you were safe couch surfing while you were traveling the country?
I didn't, I always reply.
I believe VERY strongly in the kindness of other people, and even today writing this it's still true. People are wonderful!!! I throw myself at the world literally every day and I am INSPIRED TREMENDOUSLY by the kindness I witness while no one else is watching.
The events on Friday are the exception, not the rule. Please do not let something like this harden your heart on humanity. As tragic as something like this may be, and as much as we should honor the children let this event be a conversation starter. Whatever your beliefs are on gun control, let your voice be heard!! Express it. Tweet about it in social media!! The world is now watching. I just wish it didn't take such a dark shadow for us to now shine a light on the issue.
Oh look a kitten doing something cute ...