A Life Unexpected

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

The world didn’t know then, the moment of your birth, what purpose your life would serve.  From the moment you were born, you radiated a warm light that put a smile on the face of everyone you met.  As a baby you were rocked, cuddled, and your parents swore to protect you from the evils of the world.  Together you explored the landscape of life daily, with walks outside through forests, and parks.  You forded streams together, squishing your toes in the muddy banks.  You squealed in delight at butterflies and ladybugs, eager to always discover more.

You went to zoos and learned all the animals names, to county fairs where you ate popcorn and candied apples that always managed to make your hair sticky.

Each year you grew stronger and more sure of yourself, continuing to gather information about the world around you.  Your brothers and sisters, both younger and older than you, cared for and looked out for you.  They wouldn’t allow anyone to mess with you; no, that was a right reserved purely for them!

And then suddenly one day you were old enough to go to school.  You were excited and nervous as you maneuvered through a whole new day, at a place that would become like a second home.  You met all kinds of kids there, and made so many new friends!  Life was opening up all its possibilities to you, and you began to thrive in a new way, a new direction.

There were so many teachers who loved you–would give their life for you, and you became secure and blessed in even more ways.  You did art every day, learned about other people in other parts of the world, learned that numbers can be manipulated, and that letters can be made into words.  You learned that your new best friend would stand up for you in a disagreement with another kid, and that they like grape popsicles too.  You got to eat lunch everyday with hundreds of other kids, and you got to play just about anything you wanted to at recess.  Life just couldn’t get any better.

But life has its sudden quirks of violence, and in your innocence you couldn’t have known that.  That some people are unstable, angry and violent.  That some people, for whatever reason, unload their unhappiness on unknowing victims.  And so the clouds rolled in in a fit of thunder and lightning, and darkened the very place that was safe and secure, filling it with fear, terror and anxiety.

Some of you will have been called to God, the recess of your life abruptly ending.  Where was your friend?  Your teacher?  Running and hiding, panic and fear, leaving a devastation felt around the world.  A devastation that comes from losing a child, brother, or sister much too young, from something so senseless as a violent young man.

The world became a dark place on Friday morning, when all the light that young children bring to the world was extinguished.  And the parents?  The world has thought about little else since this transpired, yesterday.  It is a wound that won’t ever heal.  Through years of missed birthdays, driving for the first time, graduation, college, first dates, first kisses, engagements, weddings, and the opportunity to experience parenthood themselves will forever keep a place of grief in their hearts.

Today, as my husband and I discussed this, he managed to think of something that I had not even come to yet.  The both of us sitting in silence, he whispered, “I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to remove all the presents from under the tree.”  Only one of thousands of impossible days ahead that they face.  Please remember them, these parents, and their children, as well as the staff.  They face so much darkness ahead.


This entry was posted in children, Connecticut shooting, school shootings, violence and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to A Life Unexpected

  1. journeyman1977 says:


  2. jmgoyder says:

    OMG Arnel – this is a such a tribute.

  3. Connie T says:

    I can’t imagine getting told your child died at school from a insane madman. This makes me so sad for those people, those children.

  4. adinparadise says:

    Absolutely chilling, Arnel. You have said what we are all thinking. My heart goes out to those families.

  5. Jacquie says:

    That was a profound statement that sort of drives hime the reality of the situation. Christmas will never be the same for those families again. Wonderful post.

    • Thank you J! I can’t imagine what they must be going through, but the very idea that there are little wrapped presents sitting under a tree or in hiding waiting for Santa just does me in.

  6. robincoyle says:

    The vision of the presents for those kids under the tree haunts me.

    A few years ago, a friend of ours was killed in a car accident the day before Christmas Eve. On New Year’s Day, the family opened the presents and talked about how he would have loved each gift. They then delivered and donated all the gifts to a homeless shelter in tribute to him.

  7. terry1954 says:

    I had thought of that………….gifts under the tree, wrapped for loved ones to open, what to do with them. I can not imagine. knowing me the tree and the gifts would remain still for months

  8. sayvan says:

    I am speechless… I am so far from where this happened but I am so close to it as a parent. I cant even imagine….. It’s really all I have thought about since friday. If there is any good that comes from this, I hope it will be the right steps toward ending violence and providing care, proper care for all who require it. This is so senseless….

    • So true. But I can’t fathom a parent who in this day and age would not keep all guns inaccessible in a gun safe. It just boggles my mind. I know that this is not uncommon, but I can’t imagine it.

  9. If there were a magical formula to untwist a twisted brain and calm a troubled heart, to undo the violence and mayhem that have been done, I’m sure many, if not most of us would pay the price to bring it to bear in this situation.
    I regret that there is no such formula. I am angry that the anger and tortured personality the shooter had could not be soothed. I mourn that nothing could be done by me, by my wife, or by anyone we know that would have stopped, would have prevented this event.

    • I too cannot make sense of it. What I really can’t fathom is a mother who would allow access (let alone own) to such weapons when she knew her son was mentally unstable. It’s sad enough she paid the ultimate price for such a lapse in judgement, but it’s unspeakable that she wasn’t the only one paying the price. It sickens my heart that someone could be so careless.

  10. A beautiful reflection in their honor…thank you so much.

  11. UndercoverL says:

    Goodness. So very sad. I think we should all hold our children a little tighter and a little longer from this day forth. God bless those broken hearts.

  12. Lynne Ayers says:

    Beautifully expressed Arnel – my own thoughts keep returning to the people of Newtown – their hearts must feel so empty and drained, on autopilot trying to get through the worst of the worst – the foreverness of the loss … I have cried for all of us, will it never stop –

  13. Maxima says:

    My dear friend my today post is dedicated to you!

  14. What you wrote shows a lot of Grace, it made me cry and gave me chills. You’ve a beautiful heart and I feel lucky to have found you.

    • Thank you so much, but after reading The touch that changed my life, I think you deserve the same praise. What amazing opportunities God gives to us. Please read my next post, on Autism for more…

  15. Where do I find it? I’d love to read more from you.

  16. pattisj says:

    This is a beautifully written tribute. May their families be comforted and find peace.

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