I still can't bring myself to talk about it in specifics. I form half-sentences, thoughts that bubble to the surface and then are pushed back down. Children. Violence. Tragedy.
It's not like I haven't heard about a school shooting before, or read the dark tale of someone who, for reasons unknown, lashes out against the most defenseless and innocent among us. I've taken these stories in stride, been able to look past that moment of violence and focus, instead, on the strength of the people left behind - the way we pick up the pieces, help one another get through the day, offer our thoughts and prayers and support. I'm an optimist. I believe that most people are good, that deep down we all want the same things. To be happy, to avoid suffering, to love.
On Friday, my optimism failed me. When I heard the news out of Connecticut I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I wondered if I was wrong - if most people were not, in fact, good. If we were all a madman's trigger finger away from having our lives cut short. If it was stupid to feel safe, if love was too risky.
A few days later, some of my optimism has returned. I'm hopeful for the human race, though that hope is guarded. I don't know what the answer is - why these things keep happening, what we can do to stop them. The answer isn't as simple as better mental health care, or less guns. It's far more nuanced, and will require a cultural shift - a shift I'm not sure we're ready to make. Most days I feel like a better future is right around the corner. Some days - like Friday - I feel like we've never been further from it.
But I hope, and I'm optimistic. Not because hope and optimism make sense, but because the alternative is too dark to face.