I say that I am empathetic, those who know me would say that I am highly emotional. I absorb the feelings of those around me and often have a hard time discerning which are mine and which belong to others.

During times of tragedy, I tend to stay away from television and internet news. I walk with blinders past magazines at check-out lines. The graphic frenzy of the media is overwhelming to me. It’s too much to take in and the grief of the situation can overcome me.

By Mickey McGrath at http://bromickeymcgrath.com/

By Mickey McGrath at http://bromickeymcgrath.com/

But I chose to read their names. I chose to look at the pictures and read their stories.

Yes, I am talking about the 26 victims of last weeks Newton shooting. I am talking about looking at the smiling faces of innocence of the 20 children that were killed and reading about their love of life and the joy they brought to those around them. The 6 adult victims who were brave in protecting the children in what have had to be a nightmare beyond anything they could have imagined.

These victims were loved – deeply.

As I sat at my desk, read these stories and looked at these beautiful faces, I wept. But I kept on reading. It would have been so easy to exit out of my Internet browser and bury my head in the busyness of the day but I owed these young lives something.

I owed the children’s parents even more.

I got to choose to read these stories. Those Connecticut parents didn’t.

Who was I to zoom past a story that I didn’t want to read with details so sad that its unimaginable that it even happened.

And who was I, as a mother, if I chose not to recognize these young lives and the future that they will never be able to fulfill. Who was I, as a Christian, if I didn’t lift up prayers for the families’ comfort and healing; for the children and teachers who witnessed the crime and for the town of Newton.

Who was I, as an American, to not pray for our country as we try to place blame and squabble about what should have happened and lash out at one another to make sense of it all. The squabbling over gun control, should not be louder than the right of having our children grow up in a society where these tragedies don’t exist.

I am  a person who owes this recognition and these tears.

A week from today is Christmas –  the victim’s funerals began yesterday – just three days after the killing spree. When parents should have been shopping for Christmas presents, they were shopping for coffins. I can only imagine Christmas trees that stay dark now, presents already wrapped under the tree for these children. Christmas will never be the same for the families of those killed – or even for those living in this town – it will always be a reminder of events that took place on December 14, 2012.

To the rest of us, we will turn a  blind eye to these events soon. We will forget this tragedy as we unwrap our Christmas gifts and probably take our loved ones for granted. We will quickly forget what these families are going through and never realize the pain they feel as they wake to another day missing those they tragically lost.

I am  a person who owes this recognition and these tears. I pray to God the grief that I have taken in is a reminder always – to not forget those faces and their stories. I pray to God to help me remember the future frustrations I may feel with my loved ones is a fleeting moment that means nothing. I pray to God to always remember to say the words “I love you” as we part company for the day and I pray to God that I may take something – anything – from this situation to help others.

But most of all, I pray.