“Our hearts are broken today. The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. As a country, we’ve been through this too many times, we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” President Barak Obama-President of The United States of America. –December 14, 2012
This late Friday, December 14, 2012 at about 10pm, New York time, as the New York cold late autumn wind whistled through the silent, sedate and subdued street of the small town where my wife and I had decided to nurture our children, I sat by my reading table. I was finishing papers and other writings. As nature beyond us shook gently to the whistling of the wintry autumn wind, the children and mom were at the night prayers –the last ritual of the day to bid the day farewell, hoping to rise and embrace tomorrow with love. I did not join them in the evening worship for I was taking advantage of our family prayer tradition, which is always a space where everyone is remembered in our prayers even if you are unavoidably absent.
Then, the door of my library creaked to the battering, whistling and rattling of the late autumn wintry wind, and coincidentally, I heard my son say to mom and others at prayers in Yoruba language ‘…mama ẹ jẹ ki a ranti pẹlu ifẹ àwọn ti o kú ni Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, ẹ jẹ ki a gbadura fún wọn…” In English, it means ‘mom let us remember with love those who died in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, let us pray for them…” Remember with Love and Pray. Coming from a high school kid, I did not miss that, for love has just been expelled from our world, through the hatred breathed into the world from the nostril of Mr. Adam Lanza and the nose of his gun. And across the Atlantic to Nigeria given recent social ruminations in contemporary Nigeria and the stories we adults fail to tell our children, I am beginning to wonder if Remembering With Love can be a Nigerian creature. So how come a Nigerian kid is remembering with Love given the kinds of stories some adults do not tell their children?
Yet for us Christians, this is a season of Advent when we stand in glorious expectation of the Birth of Love in Human Flesh when God became Human. How then can the expulsion of love in the mournful death of the twenty little children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut who were waiting for Advent and Christmas precede in earthly mortal time the immortal birth of the very divinity in Love, the bearer of the Advent? That remains a mystery.
Thus, by the last count on this mournful cold wintry day, the cold hand of the gun had sunk bullets infernally into the lives of twenty eight souls – twenty of them were children in elementary school. With the expiration of twenty eight human lives from the nasty, short, brutish, hating, angry and cold looking eyes of a gun and more than twenty eight bullets vomited hatingly from a hate-mind into twenty eight lives, I became disembodied. Without a body, I could only think as a disembodied soul who has children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. As a disembodied soul I cried out in anguish and in agony for hatred has just enveloped the world, love had been expelled, and no one is spared.
I could not care how those children look. I do not just care. They are my children. They are mine. I am theirs. Yes, yes and yes. My material flesh dissolved, melted and bolted my soul away in eternal flight to be in union and in eternal warm, loving embrace with the departed twenty children and eight adult souls. Flags flew at half-mast. A nation coming out of the bruises of a divisive election became mournful. And the President Sobbed.
Saturday morning, December 15, 2012, my family woke up glumly. Still saddened by Sandy school sorrowful deaths, we woke to answer our Church’s Advent call to clean the church in anticipation of the arrival of the Eternal Prince of Love and Profound Peace. We are catholic so we take these things seriously. Mom has asked that we buy some Dunkin Donuts to take along so that parishioners who come to sweep and clean the church will eat as they clean, sweep and wait. So I called my daughter, and we took a quick one to the eatery to buy Donuts.
Behold as we queued to buy Donuts, the television was again agog and gobbled by the deaths of the Connecticut Twenty Eight. And my daughter WATCHED. I was helpless, for she watched intensely. Should I let her watch? But we were right there in the public, could I stop her from watching? She stood there, transfixed, taking in the news of hatred, poison and venom; of lack of love as she watched. It was the news of hatred, venom, seething with anger and poison, from the mind of Mr. Adam Lanza and from the nostril of his gun.
I hurriedly collected three boxes of Donuts and to distract my daughter, I dramatically landed them into her hands and whispered quietly but lovingly, warmly and firmly “Let us go…”! I started a reel of words and sentences. I will not know how many times I reeled them out. But I heard myself saying: This is why our stories to you children of what happened in the past must be stories of love, this is why we must envelope the future of you our children with love, this is why we must surround you children with love, this is why the pillar we build before you children, our children, should be pillar of stories of love, this is why we should make the pillar we build behind you children be built with mortar of stories love, and this is why we should cement the pillar beside you with stories of love. We must never turn you into angry and venomous souls by our stories, the stories we tell you, and by our actions. We must never make you seethe with anger with our stories, the stories we tell you.
My daughter thought I was in a trance and asked “Papa, kí ló dé”? That is “Papa, what is wrong?”. Then I answered, “Kí ni mo ṣe?” That is “what did I do?” She said, “ẹ kan n sọrọ love love love ṣa. ” That is “you are just talking love love love…”
Then I remembered Nigeria, my dear country and the stories of love we parents did not and do not tell our children, then I remembered Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown Connecticut Twenty Eight and the story of hatred, venom and poison that has just been enacted through the vomit of more than twenty eight bullets, perhaps through stories we adults tell our children. Then I remembered my son who said, “mama let us remember with Love those who died in Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut and pray for them”. Then, with what he said, I said perhaps there is hope. Then, I calmed down.
Then I became QUIET: For each story of love we adults fail to tell our children, for each time we make ourselves the story when telling the story of the past to and before our children, for each time we mediate the story of the past with ourselves, we have limited the truth, we have sealed our children’s memories with mortars and morsels of venom, hate and distrust for others, we have written our future with and in hatred and anger, we have asked them to write with venom, hatred, and anger, we have asked them to use words to kill, we have put guns in the hands of our children, we have asked them to march into schools and kill little children, we have wrapped our children and their memories with venom, anger, poison and hatred. And we have connected Newtown Connecticut Twenty Eight to Nigeria and vice versa.
But this need not be the case for love is immeasurable, for love is total, for love is not measured by my story or your story that we adults tell our children, for love is not mediated by me or you for it is beyond me and you, for love is beyond your story and my story, or any adult story, for love is love and this is the story we do not tell our children, but which we should tell our children.
As we continue the season of Advent let us remember the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut and their heroic teachers with love in our prayers, let us always as adults remember to tell the true story of love to our children for love is immeasurable, it is total, it is holistic, and Love is the Prince Of Peace Profound for whom venom, hatred, poison from the mind has no place.
May The Souls of the Connecticut 28 Rest In Profound Peace. May their families be imbued with strength and love at this moment of grief. May they triumph this moment of grief. May we always have the divine strength to soak and dye with love the stories we tell our children. May Global Profound Peace and Love reign and abound Eternally Connecticut Sandy Hook, and the Sandy Hooks in us.
Adeolu Ademoyo (email@example.com) is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
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