Wanting To Give You A Hug


Maya Sherne, Breaking News Editor

Growing up, whenever I was upset, my mom would hug me tight and “squeeze the icks out,” and somehow, this act of love always made me feel better.  But now that I’m older, and exposed to much more than my five-year-old self, the icks are sometimes too big to get rid of.  They must be controlled, tolerated, and suppressed.

I’ve tried all these techniques, whether with school stress, or social problems, and the icks usually go away.  But it’s harder when the icks are a part of your life.  When they are so deeply rooted into everything you do, so uncontrollable, so intolerable, and so exposed, that there is nothing to do except let them consume you.

It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to die.  As teenagers we talk about death all the time.  It comes up in everything we do: stories we read in class, movies we watch on the weekends, and conversations with friends.  Death is a natural part of life, so naturally, we understand it.  We learn that death should not be feared, that death is unpreventable, so when the time comes we should greet our end with open arms.  But what if that is not the case?

Last Friday, Dec. 14, my core belief that death should be accepted was destroyed.  I was in Spanish, taking a test when I looked up surprised as I heard my teacher gasp.  She informed the class that there had been a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.  Our class looked around, surprised, stunned, but the severity of this tragedy didn’t register.  We continued with our test, and quickly forgot about the disruption.  Tragedies like this have become so common that nothing seems to phase us, and that in itself is not only astonishing, it’s disturbing.

Two hours later, during journalism, I got a phone call from my older sister.  I called her back, curious as to what could have been so important.  She told me that she had heard about the shooting and “just wanted to say how much she loves me.”   I smiled, grateful that she had thought of me, quickly caught up with her, and returned to class.

After school, I received a text from my mom,  “wanting to a give you a hug.”  This text moved me, it haunted me, and it made the shooting relatable and personal to me.

I imagined myself in that school.  Panicking, shaking, wanting only for my mommy to come squeeze the icks out.

I wanted to wrap my arms around every child that hid in a closet for an hour terrified.  I wanted to give a hug to every parent that is no longer able to kiss their child goodnight, and every sibling that would never have the chance to tell theirs how much they love them.  I very literally wanted to wrap up the entire world and hug it until there was no evil, no pain, and no death.

I didn’t understand.  The deaths in Connecticut were not expected, they were neither provoked nor understandable, and there was nothing natural about them.

It was the deaths of children, of parents, of teachers, and siblings.
All of these victims had their entire futures ahead of them.  Children never having the chance to graduate, or get married, parents never being able to see their children grow up, and children having to grow up without a parent.  Each scenario was forced upon the victims with a bullet.

The shooting shattered my hope and its incomprehensibility offered me no comfort.  I tried to add perspective, view the shooting in a larger context and make sense of it.  I couldn’t.  And since I was unable to understand the tragedy, I was not able to accept it.

There is no way to comprehend something like this.  To justify children being killed in the same place they are supposed to feel safe.

I couldn’t make sense on my own.  I listened to news reports, compulsively refreshing my browser, and as I watched the news get worse and worse, my icks grew more and more.

I watched interviews of children present at the school, their bodies shaking, tears streaming from their eyes as they recounted the experience that changed their lives.  I cried alongside them, longing to give them the innocence they could never get back, the naivety that the world is a good place, and that they are safe.

No amount of hugs or tears will heal the victims.  No amount of prayer will bring the dead back.   And no amount of information can help me understand the unexplainable.

The victims aren’t just the people killed.  The shooting didn’t just warp the future of every child present, it didn’t just make every parents’ heart stop, or stun every person connected to that school.   It shocked the entire country.

The holiday season is the greatest time of year for every child.  It’s a time for hope, for love, for rejoicing, and for familiarity.  But somehow, the world seems even more unpredictable than before.

The shooting called into question everything I value about the holidays.  Material things are irrelevant.  Natural things are comforting.  And tragic things no longer have a place in my life.  Lovely things, that’s all what I want this holiday season.

Around this time of year, I always watch one of my favorite movies Love Actually, and I found some comfort in Hugh Grant’s opening monologue.

“General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that.  It seems to me that love is everywhere.  Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there.”

After the shooting, as far as I know, no one reached out in hatred or retribution.  The whole country was deeply concerned for everyone they cared about, all the messages were of love.  And although love cannot reverse the horrific events that took place on Friday, it can offer comfort, it can change lives, and it can shape future ones.

I realized that my mother’s hugs weren’t what got rid of the icks.  It was her endless desire to make me happy, her need to make me feel safe.  It was her love.

When tragedy occurs, extend your hand and supply your love. Because no matter what, “if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”  And that is the most understandable and natural thing in the world.