June 7, 2022 // Perspective

Sitting in grief

We went to Hobby Lobby.

It just opened up, you see. Brand new store. Because back in August 2020, the old one was blown away in Hurricane Laura. And so for nearly two years we’ve waited, sometimes not so patiently, for the store with wooden signs with pithy phrases to reopen.

Earlier, as I sat at home watching the horrific headlines cross my TV screen yet again, “19 children dead in school shooting,” I asked my nearly 5-year-old daughter if she wanted to go to Hobby Lobby because it felt like something normal that we could do. And nothing else felt normal. Nothing else felt right. Nothing else felt ok. Let’s just go to the new store and buy some craft supplies and a sign that says, “Live Love Laugh,” and try to not think about the tragedy of tiny children being killed in their classrooms two days before summer vacation.

We bought some kites. They have Elsa from “Frozen” on them.

Then we got back in the car, turned on the Disney station on Sirius XM and “Shiny” from “Moana” began.

“Oh this one’s my favorite, Mom! Can you turn it loud?”

And we drove home, the songs from “Moana” making my minivan shake.

It was just one tiny normal excursion, to remind me of the gift my child is, to help me stay grounded in a moment of deep grief at the thought that 19 children will never go to Hobby Lobby or get buckled into the minivan ever again.

I hopped over to AP News to look at more news about the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. A quick rundown of “What We Know So Far” was at the top of the website, and as I scrolled through the story, a tiny detail jumped out.

Some students at the school, after the awards ceremony that morning, were sitting in their classroom watching “Moana,” enjoying that first taste of summer break while still at school for just a couple more days.

And that’s when they heard the pop pop pop of the AR-15, ran to take cover, hide, escape.

I lost it.

Tears flooded my eyes. My heart began to pound. The room seemed to spin.

Minutes before, we’d listened to “Moana” songs, the same songs those little kids heard yesterday, moments before they were shot at – killed.

I wept. We all seem to be weeping at this moment — as we should.

In moments of tragedy, as the horror of violence and evil become more obvious as the story unfolds, we sometimes run to “fix it” so it never happens again. And we should fix it, and we must try to make sure it never happens again.

But first we must sit and lament. First we must sit and cry. First we must sit and grieve. First we must sit, still as can be, and look at the tragedy.

And then, stand up, and remind ourselves this is not the end.

The tragedy is not the end. The tears are not the end. The horror is not the end.

We lament, and we sit in pain, and we grieve and mourn and cry, and enter a tomb of darkness, and cling to the seemingly impossible hope that the stone will roll away, the sun will rise, the tears will dry, and the tragedy is not the end to the story.

We sit, so that we can then stand. We weep, so that we can perhaps dance once again.

The tragedy of mass shootings – in a grocery store and a school in less than two weeks – is not one to move on from anytime soon. We must sit in this grief and feel this pain.

And then, we must cling to the words of Jesus, who we know told us there will be trouble in this world, but to take heart, for He has conquered all.

Katie Prejean McGrady is an author, speaker and host of “The Katie McGrady Show” on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM. She lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana, with her family.

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