We had a lovely and heartfelt prayer service at my school for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. My heart has ached since I heard the news on Friday of the horrific events. I never want to have a conversation like that again with my students. I never want to hear them ask me questions about what would happen if I were dead in the room and they had to fend for themselves. I can not even fathom the pain felt in that community. I have been a weepy mess on and off every time I see images from that day or the aftermath of their sorrow, so I can not even begin to comprehend how life altering this event has been in their lives. I pray that they are able to find comfort in the outpouring of love in support from around the country, although that will never compensate them for what they are experiencing.
As I sat in the pews listening to the priest read off the names of each of the victims and watched the children carry up candles for of them, listening to the song “Go Light Your World” playing lightly in the background I was suffocated by emotions. This song has particular significance to me, so it struck an especially emotional chord. Tears swelled up in my eyes and spilled down my face. All of my students were alive and well sitting in front of me, but I couldn’t help but be self-centered and think about how devastating it would be if anything ever happened to any of them. I choked down a sob because I did not want to become a weeping mess in front of the whole school and community members. I wiped away tears with my scarf, not knowing how to make myself stop.
Desperate to find a way to stop the flood of tears, I resorted to measures that men often use to make themselves last longer. I started thinking about baseball stats, football plays, basically anything that would take my mind off all the poor families affected by Friday’s events. And that in turn made me feel inappropriate and guilty because they were supposed to be the focus of our service, not something I was trying to take my mind off of. My mind often wanders aimlessly in Mass, but this was a situation where I was actively trying to think of something different to keep the tears from spilling. I genuinely wish I had more control of my emotions so that I would not have to resort to these measures, but I don’t know how.
I am awful at wakes and funerals, even when I do not know the person well. I can not help but think of all the missed moments with their family and friends. If he had a daughter, I think of her wedding day without her dad walking her down the aisle. If she had a husband, I think of him trying to fall asleep at night without her and not sharing those beautiful, mundane rituals anymore. I can’t help it. My mind is a mess in those moments and my heart overflows with grief. And that grief affects me for awhile. I feel emotionally drained and physically exhausted. Making me feel like a jerk because I am not even the one personally affected by the situation.
Does anyone else ever experience these moments and feel guilty about how your mind wanders?