It's no secret that becoming a parent changes your outlook on life. And so while the average American has focused on the horrors in Tucson, Arizona as a concerned citizen hoping Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords can pull through, the parents among us have focused on the family of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old shooting victim who was killed in the Safeway grocery store on Saturday.
We have put ourselves, again and again in our minds, in the shoes of John and Roxanna Green, wondering how we could survive, as they are, the death of a child. And with that has come a raft of judgment. Seeing the couple on Dateline NBC last night, my first inclination was to grit my teeth and ask what kind of parent is ready to go on national TV 24 hours after the loss of their child? The same type of parents who paraded their child out in a book about babies born on 9/11/01? They don't deserve to be parents if they're going to use horrors for their own gains.
It's not kind, but then, nothing about this weekend has been kind. At a time when the right and left should come together, there has instead been sniping, blame games, and more divisive politics. As an American who needs to retain hope in the faith of humanity -- I am, after all, raising a child in this political climate -- I prefer to think that is the fear talking.
And indeed, I have to admit that it's the fear that left me shaking on my couch last night, watching the Greens so exacting as they spoke of their daughter, so unfeeling. What, you couldn't even summon a tear for your little girl? Everywhere I look, they're talking to the media. To Fox News. To USA Today.
I was afraid last night for the sake of my child. And I was projecting my anger at a depraved individual who would shoot a child in cold blood onto her parents. It was completely unfair.
Because it's not John and Roxanna Green's fault. And it's not wrong of them to go on TV or talk to a newspaper; not really. As a small town newspaper reporter, it was once my job to seek out the families of the deceased and talk to them about their loved one. I had the advantage of working in community journalism; I did not have the callousness of the big time media. I was often given leave to seek out a family member other than the parents first, although I often requested a message be passed on to the most direct kin about my story. More than once, those parents took me up on the offer of their own accord.
Because in the end, talking about the person you love is the only thing you have left. It can be incredibly cathartic. It can be the only thing keeping you from sitting in a corner crying your eyes out.
In truth, I've done something similar. Upon the death of my grandmother on a Saturday night, I sat down to write a love letter to her in the form of my weekly newspaper column. Less than 24 hours had passed, and there I was, writing words that I knew would appear in the media. I wasn't whoring out my story; I was sharing it. We are eager to find an ulterior motive in America, but sometimes the simplest answer is the right one.
The fact is we all grieve differently. In the case of a lost child, I can say right this second that I would never recover. But I don't know exactly how that would play out. I hope and pray that it's something I will never have to face. I feel sorry for the Greens, sorry for their troubles, sorry for the judgment I and countless others have passed out of our own fears. They have another child at home to live for, and so I hope they can find a balance in life -- to always remember their daughter, to talk about her, to keep her alive in their own way once the TV cameras and the newspapers have finished talking about her, but to live for their son.
Did you find yourself wondering why the Greens didn't get off TV?