If you haven’t heard the news, a man opened fire on a movie theater full of people seeing the midnight showing of the new Batman movie last night in Aurora, Colorado. As of this writing, at least 12 people are confirmed dead.
I am devastated. Devastated in a way that is new for me, like it happened to people I know. Because what if it happened to Alison? Because everyone in that theater was someone’s child — someone’s Alison.
It’s treacly, I know, and maudlin and sentimental, but as a mother, these tragedies hit me right in the heart in a way they never did before. It’s like I feel every mother’s pain.
Now, I’ve been in love with my husband for 18 years, but when I hear about a shooting, I don’t immediately feel every wife’s pain, every lover’s pain. What is it about being a mother that brings the world’s pain crashing into my heart? I’m like a tender wound. I’m vulnerable.
I’m not holding myself up as a beacon of empathy. Less than 12 hours ago, 12 people were shot and killed inside a movie theater, and right now their loved ones are grieving and raging, and here I am blogging about how it makes ME feel. It’s not about me. It’s not about abstract ideas of motherhood. It’s about their pain. It’s about this tragedy. But every tragedy is universal, in a way, because of how it’s personal. Right? We project ourselves, our stories, onto the scene of the crime and that’s how we understand what’s happened, and why it matters. We can only understand things through ourselves, after all. We are our own prisms.
So I find myself this morning thinking of how being a new mother brings the world’s tragedies closer. Maybe it will bring the world’s joys closer, too. Maybe everything will be technicolor and intense, now that life has gestated inside me. Maybe my entire way of connecting with the world will be forever changed, now that I’ve pushed a living creature out from my body and into the world.
All I know is that this morning, I am heartbroken in a new way. Like a member of my family was in that theater. And I know there are shootings, and worse, every day, all over the globe, and I am so sheltered, and we have to be, to a certain extent — we have to put up some kind of armor or we’d just sit there, pulsing, like a bruise. Immobilized. Instead, we need to channel our pain, somehow. To let our empathy inspire compassion, action, love. That’s the trick, isn’t it? To let events like this open us to so much love, that we end up coming closer together, instead of ever farther apart?
Photo by Flickr user Unnar Ýmir Björnsson