And tragedy doesn’t feel the same either.
As most of you know I am a producer in network news, and I have been for longer than I care to admit…although I like to attribute the crazy hours and stressful work environment to this deepening line between my eyes. Not my fault I need Botox – blame my job.
But this post is not about vanity, this post is not flippant, this post is about tragedy, and how differently it looks and feels now that I’m a parent.
When I woke up at 5am on Friday, or more accurately, when Ellie woke me up at 5am on Friday, I checked my email and phone as I always do, and I saw over 50 emails about a shooting in a Colorado movie theater.
I didn’t want to read them. I had no interest in the details. In fact, I wanted to close my eyes and go back to bed and ignore the entire disaster. But, as a news producer, who is currently working in a control room on a live program, that’s simply not an option. As I read through them my heart hurt…more than 50 injured (last I saw that number is around 70), at least 10 dead (last I checked that number was 12), ages ranging from 3-months-old to 45-years-old…yes, I wondered what the hell a 3-month-old was doing at a midnight showing of a movie. And then I thought, well we must have our facts wrong…and that would mean a 3-month-old was not shot. Which would then mean that one less set of parents were heartbroken and despondent. Because all of this is too much to process.
Before I had Ellie, I would have been up, on the computer, with the television on, trying to grasp the nuances of the story and focus on which elements we had to cover our upcoming broadcast with.
Now? Well we watched Sesame Street. I quickly decided she would not watch one ounce of this coverage because she shouldn’t have to, and because she is too young to process it all. I checked my emails until I arrived at work and caught up on the details when I got in.
They were too tragic to process. And once they identified the alleged shooter, and it was reported that his mother told ABC News, “You have the right person,” my heart hurt even more. What did she know? What did she now feel responsible for? How does she process this? Oh my god, those poor parents...All thoughts that ran through my head.
I worked for the rest of the day, and then headed out to my sister’s house, enjoyed a nice dinner, and then after Ellie was in bed watched 20/20 and it was gut wrenching. There was a clip of a father screaming while holding up a photo of his son, begging for anyone to tell him where his son is. Diane Sawyer interviewed the mother of 25-year-old Jessica Ghawi. Jessica died while seeing the movie with a friend, and her mother painfully recounted the details of her final text conversation with her daughter. Her mom explained how she had trouble sleeping Thursday night so she sent her daughter a text late at night to see what she was up to, and they ended the conversation with Jessica telling her mom, “‘Mom go get some sleep, get some rest, I’m so excited about your visit next week. I need my mama,” and her mom responding, “I need my baby girl.” Jessica was shot and killed not long after.
A pregnant 25-year-old mother was in the theater, with her 6-year-old. Her six-year-old died. The status of the mom and her unborn child are not known at this point.
I can’t stop thinking about all of the moms right now. All of the parents. Life doesn’t look the same once you become a parent, and it certainly doesn’t feel the same. It’s not that I walk around thinking life is too short, but since Ellie has been born, I feel like Life just not long enough. And when I think that, I am thinking about the best case scenario. The one where I live to 95-years-old, and Ellie does the same…and I have the chance to do everything I can possibly imagine with Ellie and everyone else I love. Where I make sure to clearly explain how much I love those that mean the world to me, where I can describe to the best of my ability what it’s like to have your first kiss, or what it feels like when your baby kicks for the first time, or how amazing it is to have really not enjoyed Disney World – with the heat and the lines and the crowds – at all until you see your child kiss Mickey on the nose.
The life where I see her hit her first home run, and help her pick out her prom dress, and walk her down the aisle.
Even when I tell myself that is how things will go – life still doesn’t feel like it will ever be quite long enough.
But when I think about what happened in the early hours of Friday morning in Aurora, Colorado I can’t help but think that life is too short for anyone touched by that tragedy, especially the parents, and brothers and sisters, and children. And for them, my heart breaks in a way I have never felt before.