I would have liked to write an entry that commemorated the 26 victims of the Connecticut School shooting but there have been so many excellent (and not so excellent) tributes, commentaries and op-ed pieces that I decided instead to more prosaically list some of the things that make me so lucky.
Christmas and the holiday season provides an opportunity to look back at the year, to take stock and if you're in the philosophical frame of mind review your life. I'm no longer a spring chicken, in fact, likely not even an autumn one. When I consider my life, I have been incredibly fortunate. I grew up in rural Alberta, a bit isolated, although I didn't know it and attended one of the last one room country schools still operating in the area. What a tremendous freedom it gave me. I was the single student in my grade and as a result was sent to the basement to learn typing, allowed to unmold the plaster of Paris art projects and flip flash cards for the Grade ones. Yes, there were nine grades in the school and one teacher whose responsibility was to see that we all learned the curriculum. I had an excellent grounding.
Our family was certainly not well off but we never felt poor and living on farm always had the best beef and vegetables grown in our own garden. There was time to run in the pastures, to climb trees and wander the countryside. It was a wonderful childhood.
Despite the relative isolation (and we did move to town eventually), I was encouraged to learn and to go to university although at the time, I'd never even been to a city. I was never held back.
I did attend the University of Alberta and became a teacher. I met my husband teaching in a small town near Wainwright. Later I taught high school biology at Wainwright High School for 33 years. We had two children and now I have two great grandkids.
We're by no means rich, and not everything is perfect but all-in-all, there isn't the space here for me to list all the things I should be thankful for. This Christmas I am going to remember how incredibly fortunate I am to live in Canada where we are relatively safe, free to worship as we wish and have universal health care. I am blessed.
I want to cry but if I start, I will not be able to stop. These beautiful, innocent children are gone, likely killed by someone close to them that they loved. They did not ask to be born; they did not ask for anything; they only were little children. Look at them. Bright eyes and smiles. Three siblings.
I want to cry because we failed them and their parents. Somehow, somewhere, things went sideways and the victims are these children. How could someone become so desperate that they would kill happy, unsuspecting children? Canada is supposed to be safe. Canadians applaud themselves for their safe and caring communities, their social systems that are there to look after the less fortunate, their social systems that should protect the young and defenseless.
How could this happen? How could three young children just be killed? They are healthy and happy. Christmas is coming and yet....this.
I could cry but that would do nothing. We see the television images. The neighbours, the friends, the family and the strangers. All of them fine and caring people. All of them coming to pay tribute to the three dead children and to leave remembrances. All too late. The children are dead and it cannot be undone.
Again, I could cry but it does no good. I cannot fathom the despair that led to the murder of these three beautiful children. Somehow we must all be more vigilant...we must all be more helpful.
It is a mystery that those who are not depressed or mentally ill or frightened cannot understand. Yet, if we do not, the tragedy will be repeated.
I could cry but then I could not stop.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.