A Letter to an Aching Mother

Today’s horrific school shooting in Peshawar, Pakistan has left me numb.  There are no words that can adequately express the heartache of hearing that innocent children have been killed in such a deliberate, heinous manner. There is just no explanation.  One is left wondering how humanity could have failed in such a miserable way.

A letter to a victim’s mother:

Dear Aching Mother,

I woke up this morning just like you.  I’m sure you hit the snooze button a few times, wishing you could pull the covers over your head and melt back into your dream.

But that is for a weekend. Today you have to get the kids to school.  A typical morning sounds like this: “Brush your teeth guys, don’t forget to tuck in your shirt, and grab your social studies book—you always leave your books on the table, son.  Come on kids, hurry up, eat breakfast, quick, we are running late”.

Does that sound like your day, too?

On the way to school I’m always thinking about what I have to do for the day.  What will I cook?  It’s has to be something all the kids will eat. Do you cook everyday?  I like cooking, but not every day.

The usual hugs, kisses, and I love you(s) are exchanged in front of the school.  It’s automatic—you did it today, you did it yesterday and, of course, you will do it tomorrow because life is typical, and it’s a typical day.

But, I know yesterday was anything but normal. Your world fell apart, and while you stood on the ground, you could not feel your feet beneath you.  Your heart was still beating, but somehow the beats were outside your very being, your soul.  Your hands, those same hands that had greeted your son outside his school a million times, somehow became paralyzed.

You got the message, a message that no mother can ever fathom.  This. Can’t. Be. True.

Your son was shot while in school.

What was happening?  Did you kiss him goodbye?  Did you really kiss him goodbye or was it just a quick peck on the side; you couldn’t remember because it was that second-nature-kiss he was always embarrassed to receive now that he was getting older.


You remember that his shoe was untied—he really needs to start tying his laces tighter, perhaps tying a double knot. He was complaining that he needed a haircut and you told him that you would take him to the barber after school.

But now your after-school experience is forever changed. All the plans that you had for your typical day seem like scattered ashes on the floor.  You are lost, your are gone, you are done.

My heart is breaking–it’s aching.  I want to wrap my arms around you, tell you that it will be ok, but I can’t.

I can’t because I don’t know a world without my child.  I don’t know an after school day that doesn’t include my hand outside the window waving as my child’s smile lights up across his face. I don’t know a routine day that doesn’t include my son asking for help with his homework, a little more rice in his dinner plate, and a tightly tucked-in blanket at bedtime.

I pray for you, and I pray for all the families that have lost a part of their being in this horrific tragedy.  Though you are across oceans, I share in your pain as a mother. I feel the pain of nine months, of labor, of restless nights, of scrapped knees, of bad days. From a distance, I can see the hole in your heart.



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