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Take a moment...

and spare a thought for Kathy Lanza.  The twenty-seventh victim of the tragedy in Sandy Hook.

Everything I see, and being local, we are *marinated* in reports, talks about the “twenty-six victims.”  That is incorrect.  Kathy Lanza was the first to die – at the hands of her own son.  How is that less than tragic?  Bells are ringing twenty-six times.  Someone donated twenty-six Christmas trees.  Have we become so callus a society that we differentiate between “deserving” victims and “undeserving” victims?

She may very well have made mistakes that led to the events of last Friday.  They may have been simple, negligent mistakes, such as leaving weapons unsecured where her son could access them.  They may have been more complex mistakes, such as choosing one form of care for a disturbed child over another.  There may have been no mistakes at all.  WE DON’T KNOW.  We will likely never know – the people who could tell us either way are beyond our questions.  Hindsight and investigation may lead us to some answers – whether or not the home had a gun safe is a yes/no determination.  But the answer to “what went wrong” will forever be a matter of speculation.  Hence the culpability of Kathy Lanza will also remain in that most unspecific of realms.

Here are some things that we know for certain.  There is a young man who lost his brother and his mother.  There is a man who lost the mother of his sons, and his youngest child.  Are they grieving any less?  Is their pain less worthy?  How do we measure the distress of knowing that your own family perpetrated such a horror?  Where is the outpouring of support for another family who lost just as much?

In October of 2006, Charles Roberts shot ten Amish girls aged 6-13, killing five of them.  In the aftermath, the Amish community reached out to the Roberts family to comfort them in their time of shared grief.  They understood that hate was not the answer.

Likely, the various investigators and talking heads will settle on something that Kathy Lanza should have done differently.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Everyone makes mistakes in their life – sometimes grave mistakes.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.  Whatever that mistake is deemed to have been, let us not forget that she paid the ultimate penalty for it.

The twenty-eighth victim, of course, is Adam Lanza himself.  Who will bury him?  I presume his family will grieve, but will be required to hide that grief, lest they also be deemed “monsters.”  Everything I’ve said applies to him also, but when I look at my beautiful four-year-old daughter, I have a harder time.  The good men and women of Nickel Mines are better people than I.

But spare a thought for Kathy Lanza.  Whatever her faults may or may not have been, she was a mother who loved her sons.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lucianus
Dec. 20th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
Here in our little village of Jamaica Plain a memorial has sprung up at the Monument: http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2012/12/18/school-shooting-memorial-going-up-in-monument-sq/

It is notable that there is a maker Nancy Lanza. I think here, a ways removed from the epicenter, there is more of an acknowledgement that she was also a victim of this tragedy.
kebbykate
Dec. 21st, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
Yup
I've been thinking much the same thing. And I remember that after Columbine at least one memorial had fifteen crosses on a hill overlooking the school, thus including the two shooters.

And as for not getting the right care for her child, well, that's HUGE problem when it comes to mental health services. Beds are severely limited, group homes are limited, and therapy is limited.

I was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday about all this and we talked a bit about her older brother. He's probably on the spectrum and developed schizo-affective tendencies in young adulthood. Their parents tried over and over again to get him into appropriate housing/services, and it just never worked out or never for long. He's in his mid forties, lives on his own, receives some support from the family, but is essentially an alien in his own society. She doesn't worry about any violent tendencies on his part, but she recognizes that he fits the "profile" in a general way.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )