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.