In case you've been avoiding the calendar all week, let me warn you: Saturday, December 14, marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The world will stop on Saturday morning to recognize 26 innocent lives lost when Adam Lanza entered a school and began shooting. But what about the other lives ruined a year ago? Nancy Lanza? Peter Lanza? Ryan Lanza?
If you'll remember, Adam Lanza's mother lost her life on December 14, 2012 too, shot by her son at their home in Newtown. There were 27 people shot to death on that day. For that matter, the day changed the lives of Adam's father and his brother irrevocably.
So where are the tributes for them? The sympathy for a family ripped apart by tragedy?
Is it really asking too much to keep the Lanzas in your prayers this weekend?
Apparently, it is. A number of news outlets have taken notice of the lack of a memorial for Nancy Lanza. Church bells in Connecticut will ring this weekend 26 times, one each for the children and school staff at Sandy Hook murdered by Adam Lanza. They won't ring a 27th time for Nancy Lanza.
Why don't they include the Lanzas?
Isn't it obvious? Someone has to be blamed for the horrors that occurred a year ago this week. Children were murdered. An entire nation of parents unsettled by the notion that the sanctity of childhood will not protect our kids, that schools are not secure -- not only from child gunmen but from adults with monstrous thoughts.
A year on, the scars have not healed. I know I'm not the only parent who was relieved to see that December 14 was a Saturday, a day when we would not be faced with choosing between sending our children to school or keeping them home. I say this as a mother who doesn't live in Newtown.
I honestly can't imagine how much harder this weekend will be for the families who live there, for the families who were involved.
But among the lessons we (should have) learned from Newtown is the age-old warning that life is fleeting. We have but so much time with our fellow man before we pass on to the great beyond.
Shouldn't we spend that time embracing one another, coming together for a common goal?
Fact: Nancy Lanza did not shoot those children. Peter Lanza did not shoot those children. RYAN Lanza did not shoot those children (despite reports immediately after the shooting that misidentified which Lanza brother was to blame).
Could they have seen it coming? Some say they all could have or should have, but I tend to think we are autonomous as people, every day we do things that surprise our loved ones -- in both good and bad ways.
Just this past year I saw the mother of a dear childhood friend sentenced to prison for a violent crime. Let me tell you, none of us saw that coming, my friend and her siblings included. She is their mother, and they love her, but they didn't expect her to turn violent. Nor do they condone her crime.
They are innocent victims in the mess that their mother made, victims who have lost their mother to the prison system, who have lost the picture of their mother as a normal (non-violent! non-criminal) person, who have had to go through the trauma of telling their children that Nana is in prison and only seeing their mother in a room with guards. They've had to put their own money out there for lawyers and jump through countless legal hoops -- not because of anything THEY have done but because of their mother's mistake.
The story in Newtown isn't that much different. Nancy Lanza is dead. She's gone. Maybe she played a role in that, maybe not. Still, she's a victim. She was shot and killed by her son, and she did not shoot up an elementary school.
Peter Lanza, Ryan Lanza, they've lost Nancy and Adam both, and they've lost that picture of their son and brother that they had in their minds of a normal (non-violent! non-criminal!) person. They've had their entire lives dragged through the mud. Their names are marked for the rest of their lives.
Is it the same trauma as that suffered by parents who lost a 6-year-old? No, it's not the same. But trauma is trauma. No one ever wins in a game of "who has it worst."
The fact is, Adam Lanza was a monster. His family? Who knows. They certainly do not deserve to be blamed for something they did not do, and they certainly have suffered. They are victims, even though it may not be easy to recognize them as such.
What do you think would be an appropriate way to honor the Lanzas' loss?