Fellow parents - today we woke up to the devastating news that, once again, several students had lost their lives due to senseless violence. My heart aches for the families and loved ones of the college students who were killed yesterday at Michigan State University.
If these sentiments are triggering a feeling of déjà vu, it is because I literally wrote and posted these very words just months ago after the tragedies that occurred at both the University of Virginia and the University of Idaho. These are, unfortunately, just a few of the college campuses on which students have been taken far too early from their loved ones over the past several years in America. For someone who loves words, I am struggling mightily today to find any that will do justice to the great anguish that I feel.
As parents, we devote so much of ourselves to taking care of our kids and ensuring their safety. When we send a young adult off to college, as I did this past fall for the first time, it is with a sense of equal parts enormous pride and excitement for what's to come and great sadness and loss of both our everyday time with them as well as the ability to try to keep them safe.
I have had the wonderful good fortune to visit my son in college a number of times during this school year, and my heart has swelled with the realization that he has already made so many great friends and has settled into his new life with a sense of purpose and autonomy. All students deserve the same chance to discover their gifts and find their purpose. With alarming, increasing frequency of late, we have learned of college students who have had that opportunity stolen from them, and I grieve for the loss of their lives and the gifts that they did not have a chance to share with the world.
Like many of you, I am wondering what I can do to help curb this violence and to make schools, college campuses, and the world at large a safer place. I know that opinions will differ on productive next steps, but we must find some common ground and begin to collectively demand that they are taken.
I must, however, find a way to take action myself in some way. What I know that I can do is teach my four sons to value themselves and others, to choose kindness and empathy over insensitivity and apathy, and to pursue the right way over the easy way. I can also give them one extra hug every time I see them and tell them how much I value and love them for exactly whom they are, even if they secretly (or blatantly) roll their eyes or cringe with embarrassment each and every time.
I'm thankful for getting to hug my oldest son when I visit him at college and my younger three sons every day that they are still living at home. Let's all cherish every moment we have with our kids and remember and honor the memory of those who were taken from their loved ones far too soon.