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Apodaca: Our children, first and foremost

December 22, 2012|By Patrice Apodaca

I am not a particularly brave or noble person. But like every other parent I know, I possess an unwavering certainty that I would lay down my life for my children.

Yet we parents also know that we can't always protect our kids from danger, a fact that was brought into heartbreaking relief by the recent school shootings in Connecticut that robbed 20 children of their lives.

Just a day later, that realization was driven home yet again when shots rang out at Fashion Island. Although no one was seriously injured, the incident was another reminder that brutality knows no boundaries; the innocence of a first-grade class and the joy of holiday shopping can be swept away in one monstrous act of horror.

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Even as we mourn together, each of us must find our own way to work through the myriad of feelings we experience in the face of such tragedy. The thought of Christmas and Hanukkah gifts lying unopened is almost more than we can bear, yet we know we must somehow summon the will to live with the unlivable, understand the incomprehensible, and appreciate beauty in a world that is too often ugly and unforgiving.

For me, the effort to find a spark of hope amid the madness lies in the astonishing bravery and composure shown by the teachers, administrators and first-responders in Connecticut. It is in the image of a principal rushing toward the bullets in a final act of self-sacrifice; the stories of teachers who calmed their students, sometimes using their own bodies as shields, and in recognition of a community banding together to comfort its own.

Every day we entrust others with the care of our children, for we know we can't do it all alone. We send our kids off with a prayer that their caregivers will take their charge with the upmost gravity, that they will defend our children just as we would. The adults in charge at Sandy Hook Elementary did just that, in some cases at the cost of their own lives.

Thankfully, the vast majority of us will never be put to that test. But each of us has in our lives armies of everyday heroes who help us watch over that which is most precious to us and to whom we owe an immeasurable debt.

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