Dec 18, 2012

The Last Class Picture

Does this look familiar? It does to me.  My daughter brings home a picture just like it every year.  My brother and I did too, and so did our folks before that. At some point, like a lot of parents, I'll find them, jammed in a drawer, covered by a tangle of wires for devices we tossed out long ago.  WIFE and I will take them and hold them. We'll sit, put them together, and marvel at how much MONSTA has grown in what will surely seem like almost no time at all.  

But this one is different.  It may not look it, but it is.  This picture is of 15 kids, all the same age as my kid, who were gunned down by a guy out of his head and stocked like a small army. This is their last class picture.  When their parents find it hiding in a deep, forgotten drawer, it will be alone.  For these children, there will be no more class pictures.  

I've tried hard to avoid looking at these faces. I pretended that like the other stories of tragedy, this too would be pushed from my memory by the million things vying for its attention. But it's not happening. This isn't going away.  My daughter is a first grader, and my wife is a school teacher.  And two years ago, we lost a beautiful, but too fragile, newborn baby. Sandy Hook has made a deeply profound and heartbreaking impact on me, and I'm not sure when that will pass.  But I think of their parents, and am quietly grateful knowing that for me, it will.  

Here's all I ask: take a close look.  Please.  Then look at your own kid, or nephew, or friend's kid.  See if you can't make out some resemblance. No matter where you come from, I bet you'll see at least some similarity. Then, when you get a chance, ask yourself: "Is this really the best we can do?"

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