Who We Leave Out

While I was having, what I thought, was a casual chat with an acquaintance, the Newtown, Connecticut shooting suddenly came up. This woman said how the media always says 26 people were killed when in fact there were 28. I sat there a bit dumbfounded wondering what she meant but then it hit me…the shooter and his mother are not counted as casualties. This incensed her. “Where’s the compassion for all?” she said, her voice raised. “That kid was sick and so was the mother who wasn’t strong enough to admit it. Why can’t we cry for them?”

It was 8 in the morning so the last thing I wanted was a passionate discussion since my eyes were barely open, but I didn’t get off that easily. Janet, I’ll call her, demanded my attention.

I took a long pause before answering along with several sips of coffee to stall. I still have  pictures of the dead children in my head so I had to really dig deep to dredge up sympathy for the one who took their lives, sick or not. I couldn’t seem to help myself.

I am a very compassionate being by nature so my lack of it in these circumstances not only surprised but concerned me.

I remembered another recent conversation I had about guns. A woman I like very much told me quite matter-of-factly how her father, brother and nephew all have them….have always had them….they’re hunters, she said. Apparently neither she nor they feel the need to alter the gun laws which took me back a bit because I expect everyone I know, and their relatives, to hate them too.

I then thought about the mother who was the one who taught both her sons to shoot keeping her vast collection of firearms right in the house without any thought of what could transpire, a choice that cost her her life.

My breakfast partner was getting visibly impatient with my silence finally slamming her spoon down before saying, “I’m waiting Susannah…you have an opinion on everything…I read your blog, remember…so certainly you have one on this.”

So I said, with a gun to my head…pun intended…

“I want to feel badly for this kid who killed 27 people along with himself. I do. I know he was disturbed and no one did anything to help him fast enough. His mother apparently was in denial that she had a kid this sick ignoring his behavior for far too long…and he, because of mental illness, did the unthinkable. I’m sorry, but I still can’t help feeling numb when you ask me where’s the compassion. Why did she have that many guns in the first place and why is it considered okay to have them? Perhaps if I hadn’t watched the funerals, read the eulogies…or cried along with the families because I did, for days…maybe then my heart could be pried open. I just see all those little faces who, by the grace of God, never knew what hit them.”

She didn’t answer me. She grabbed her wallet, left 10 bucks on the table and took a disturbed leave. I sat there hating myself but had to respect my truth the way it showed its ugly head.

I do hate guns whether they’re used to kill an innocent animal or another human being. I pray often that the NRA along with the powers that be see the light sooner than later…I will say a prayer, that will be admittedly forced, for the late Adam Lanza and his mother Nancy…but that’s the best I can do…

just for today.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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14 Responses to Who We Leave Out

  1. Rob says:

    Culpability is a very overrated concept. People do things for reasons. Good reasons and bad reasons are value judgements, moral questions, even matters of fashion. The world kills millions through neglect and disinterest but thousands with guns. Banning guns is a good idea if you’re amongst the thousands but less so if you’re amongst the millions. Murdered children is always a crying shame but, alas, not a rare one.


  2. katecrimmins says:

    I agree with your friend that there were 28 casualties of the incident. I also understand the general lack of sympathy for the perpetrator and his mother. I am always appalled that gun owners do not keep their weapons locked up. We have had instances locally of school age children getting their Dad’s gun and shooting a companion or themselves accidentally. I believe our need to place blame doesn’t allow for the same level of compassion although if I really dwell on it, we should have compassion for them too. I also hate guns. Never had one and I have been able to live a full life without them.


    • I appreciate you writing this. I know you’re right about not placing blame. I just wish it wasn’t so easy to buy a weapon because as you say, accidents do happen. I remember in high school a kid took his father’s shot gun and from the backseat of a buddy’s car who drove, shot at people. Killed a 17 year old boy who I knew. It was my very first wake. That was so many years ago so I guess it’s not a new problem. Perhaps just a bigger one. Thanks.


  3. Whew…way too early in the morning for that conversation. Your friend needs to respect that everyone is entitled to an opinion, whether it agrees with hers or not. She is correct, there were 28 lives lost, however 26 of those were innocent victims lives, they were never were given a choice. The other 2 made the choices that sadly lead to their deaths. Of course, unless you’re a stone, you have empathy for all the loss. But, the mother and son made poor choices that lead up to their demise. The children just went to school that day…like they were suppose to do.


    • I’ve been waiting for you. I knew there was no way you would let this go by without a comment. Yes, it was way too early to be faced with one’s limitations as well as a very sad subject. There were 28 people who died that day. I will acknowledge this from now on but those kids…even now I can’t wrap my brain around what happened there. They were so little…


  4. merryprangster says:

    In a way, I can feel more sympathy for the mentally ill young man who killed the children than his mother. He, after all, was ill and under-served by the mental health community (and I am still wondering why this is being discussed as a gun issue and not a mental health issue but that’s just me). His mother, however, knowing her son was mentally ill, provided him access to lethal weapons. Inexcusable. Maybe, in Lance Armstrong’s words, her mistake “doesn’t deserve the death penalty,” but surely she knew the risk she was putting herself and her community in. Perhaps she was so afraid of him she felt she herself needed access to the weapons. We will never know. One of the arguments for gun control is that those who own a gun for protection are likely to be killed with their own gun. I think a sharp knife and a locked door, and no guns, would have served her (and the world) much better.


    • I’m glad you feel the way you do. I’m troubled that I don’t have more empathy toward that young man. I was thinking though how I wish he was better taken care of. Perhaps that’s a start. I guess it’s being discussed as a gun issue because there were just so many at his disposal. They’re too easy to attain in general. The whole thing blows any way it’s looked at. Thanks for writing.


  5. D. D. Syrdal says:

    People who defend guns are creating a culture of violence. This woman knew her son needed help, and yet kept guns in the house. Not just ‘hunting rifles’, but some serious firepower. I won’t go so far as to say she’s as much to blame for what happened as her son, but she could have been less irresponsible. It might have made a difference. Those tiny children did not provide that boy with guns and ammunition and shooting lessons.


    • This is such an upsetting subject. What possessed me to write about it. I guess it was heavy on my mind so, I’ll go with that. I really don’t understand the whole Lanza family dynamic. Why she had all those guns..why she gave him access. He needed help. I’m not a mom but why wasn’t he someplace where he could have at least saved himself from what he did. I don’t know Dame. Appreciate your views as always.


  6. backonmyown says:

    It’s a tough topic but I think all Americans should be discussing this. And I appreciate your candor about the shooter and his mother. I feel sad for both of them. And certainly they, too, are victims. I don’t think I’m capable of understanding why Nancy had such weapons unsecured and available to her troubled son. Why did she want guns? Why did she not lock them up? I’m so puzzled by those questions. I cannot help but think that she is more responsible for the deaths of the children and teachers than Adam. Maybe she was mentally disturbed, too. So sad.


    • This was such a sensitive subject. Yes, the mother’s lack of judgment looms. I just wish the world wasn’t so troubled. Those kids…the teacher…the principal…it baffles me to know end how that could have happened. Can’t help it.


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