I Just Don’t Know

I’ve never felt more lost, confused, and helpless than I do right now.

I’ve never felt my heart hurt this much for strangers, for society, for the word my children will grow up in.

I’m so lost.  So confused.  So hurt.  So sad.  So tired of fighting back tears.  So tired of trying to make sense of the senseless.  I feel so unbelievably helpless right now that I don’t even know where to start when thinking about moving forward.

I just don’t know what to do, where to turn, what to say.  My brain is forever scarred…again.

How?  How do these parents who lost their children even open their eyes?  How do the loved ones of any the victims find the will to go on?  How does one even begin to face the world that took 20 innocent children and 6 of their heroic, selfless protectors in such tragic fashion?

I just don’t know.

As I look at the world with new eyes, I’m suddenly shocked by much of what I see.  I can’t help but notice that the majority of the top downloaded apps are violent in nature.  I now wonder about where our appetite for these “dark reboots” of popular movie franchises comes from.  While I always used to just shake my head at how the beautiful message in the animated movie Cars was flipped on its head in Cars 2 as a shoot ’em up spy movie, now this worries me greatly as a father.  What do these trends say about our society?

I don’t know that either.

Right now I’m simply holding onto the good I see in the world with all I have.  I’m buoyed by a quote I’ve never seen before that surfaced in the wake of this tragedy by Mister Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

There is good in this world and we saw evidence of such in Newtown, CT.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach heroically lunging at the shooter in an attempt to stop him.  Selfless, brave acts that cost both of them their lives.  Behavioral therapist Rachel D’Avino and teacher Anne Marie Murphy both reported to have died shielding their students from gunfire.  Substitute teacher Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, hired as a permanent substitute teacher only weeks earlier, killed fulfilling her lifelong dream.  While the stories of teacher Victoria Soto’s heroics are still unfolding, reports are she was able to divert the killer initially after hiding her students in a closet, only to then sacrifice her life later shielding them from gunfire when he returned.  Teacher Kaitlin Roig who hid her students in a bathroom during the shootings and told them, “I need you to know, that I love you all very much and that it’s going to be okay,” and as much as anybody who survived this ordeal could be, they were okay.

These are the stories that need to be told right now.  This is the good in the world, these are the helpers.

On Sunday night during the interfaith vigil at which President Obama spoke, I couldn’t help but notice a police officer, seemingly his mid 30s and simply too young, being hugged and consoled by more veteran looking officers.  The grief I saw in his eyes made me think that he must have been one of the first responders on the scene and what it must have been like to bear witness to such horror.  My heart goes out to everyone who was faced with addressing the immediate aftermath of this tragedy, and my eternal thanks given for a job I can’t even imagine doing.  These first responders are the good in this world, these are the helpers.

I saw this good again in every teacher who bravely returned to work on Monday, every parent who reluctantly saw their kid(s) off to school.

There is good in this world and my family and I are going to do more of it.  My hope is that we influence those around us to do the same.  We need to be better to each other.  The challenges we all face on a daily basis are only getting harder and ever more complex.  We need each other now more than ever and this is something I’m going to focus on practicing myself and teaching my boys.  The day either one of them decides to join the shy kid sitting by himself at lunch because they want to do so in their hearts, will be the proudest day of my life.

There is good in this world, and right now more than ever, we need more of it.

This I know.

Remember these names:  Charlotte BaconDaniel Barden, Rachel D’Avino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan HockleyDawn Hochsprung, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli , Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica RekosAvielle Richman, Lauren Gabrielle Russeau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.

Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.com and found on: Twitter|Facebook|Pinterest


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About Brad the Dad

Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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  1. Jen says:

    A truly thoughtful and beautiful post, Brad.

  2. James Hudyma says:

    I will be telling my kids to look for the helpers. What a beautiful way to find the good in our world. I agree with your message of hope – we can do a lot more to change this violent trend with love and compassion than we can with fear and hatred. However, it is very difficult in times like this not to fear and feel hate. That is the challenge.

  3. Thank you for having the courage to say what a lot of us are thinking. Simply beautiful.

  4. AskAGreatDad says:

    Very powerful post. We as parents hold the key to the future by raising decent helpful human beings. I know its difficult to see the good in this world with so much press on incidents like this, but you have seen all support this country is giving. We just have to teach our kids to be like all those great first responders and citizens that are doing all they can to help families move on from this terrible tragedy

  5. I’ll be honest. I just don’t know either, Brad. I don’t know what to say to my nine-year old who is asking questions about this unthinkable tragedy. The only thing I can tell him is that it was an isolated incident that involved a very sick and disturbed coward. I told him that his school will always do their very best to ensure his safety and that in the event of any kind of tragedy or disaster that he should listen to the teachers. What else can I say?
    My wife and I decided that we’re not going to tell our 5 and 6 year old boys about it at all. We’ve kept the TV off any channel that might be providing updates or covering the story. Our thinking is that they won’t fully understand what happened anyway. (Hell, I don’t think I’ll ever understand it, so how could they?) The last thing we want is for them to fear going to school. So far so good. They have no clue that 20 sweet, innocent little kids very similar to them lost their lives to a monster. That son of a bitch traumatized enough kids in this world. I won’t allow him to affect mine.

  6. It is these times that shake our very core. It is these times that tests the mettle of all of us. I was told by a friend of ours that we need to lock arms together. Stand together. Find our strength together. We can and we will get through this. It won’t be easy and we won’t forget but we can get through this.

  7. Almost a week later, so many of us are still trying to reconcile such evil and tragic behavior. This post speaks to what I believe the majority in our nation and around the world are feeling but don’t know how to say.

  8. Andrea says:

    What a powerful post…I am reading it through tears, but thank you. And thank you for the “look for the helpers.” I have not heard that Mister Rogers quote before, and I think it will help shift us to living a little differently…to be hopefully a better version of ourselves for each other, for our kids, and for our community.

  9. Thank you all for reading, commenting, and sharing. I am ever grateful for all of your kind words and feedback.

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