Hug Someone You Love

I published my last post just before my birthday.  I was as excited as anyone could possibly be – not only was I showered with great gifts from family and friends near and far, but it was capped off with a premiership win by my AFL team – a win that is the equivalent of the American Superbowl.  But just a week later, I found myself in a depression – feeling lonely and alone.

This, of course, I know, is not true. I have family and friends who care and love me.

And now we’re just over a week away from Christmas.  This is traditionally a happy time for everyone, with parties and gift-shopping and everyone winding down from their busy year.  I’ve attended three separate work Christmas parties within 8 days and ended the week on a high note and sore feet from hours of dancing.  Sadly, however, when I woke up yesterday morning and checked my Twitter feed, I saw nothing but sadness, for it was filled with breaking news updates about the latest massacre in the US.

48 hours ago I had never heard of Newtown, Connecticut.  Now, this small town has embedded itself into the hearts and minds of people all over the world.  My heart broke with every tweet and every news article I read of the lone gunman who arrived at an elementary school where his mother was a teacher and shot and killed 20 young first graders and six teachers who had tried to protect them.

There have been many questions around what motivated the shooter to do what he did.  With the shooter now dead, the whole truth may never be known.  And at the end of the day, does it even really matter?  With every news report of mass shootings in America, I often see more calls and petitions for gun law reforms, and each time, my American friends inform me this: that it is virtually impossible to tighten legislation around their constitutional right to bear arms because of the powerful gun lobbies who support the legislators.  Dear America, DON’T GIVE UP!

Shootings are not unheard of here in Australia, but they are rarely, if ever, as random as they often are in America. Gun laws are tight here and I feel blessed to live in a country where the typical mentality is not to arm ourselves for our protection, but that making guns less accessible to those most likely to use them makes for a safer culture.  There are lots of stats all over the news about the number of people who have been killed by gunshot around the world in comparison to the numbers in America.  I don’t have the details but suffice to say, they are staggering and entirely scary.

You never want to think that when you say goodbye to a loved one that it may be the last time you see them. I don’t have any children of my own but I can empathise with the families who have lost their sons and daughters to those moments of madness that took their lives and I, along with the rest of the world, grieve with them.

When my nephew was younger, he used to always give us all big hugs and kisses every time we see him.  Now that he’s 10, like most boys his age, he gets a little embarrassed by those public displays of affection.  But you know what? I don’t care.  I will always hug him as tightly as I can so that he will always know that he is loved.  And as I prepare to celebrate another warm Christmas, I will thank God that I have my family around me and I will hug them all as tightly as I can.

I suggest you all do the same.

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6 thoughts on “Hug Someone You Love

  1. Tarina

    Val, thank you, that was so well put and your last words were so beautiful and poignant. It is a good reminder to love, love, love as we never know when our last hugs, kisses and love-yous will be.

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  2. Christine (@christinelive)

    This tragedy broke my heart. Thank you so much for writing a post about it. These shootings have dramatically increased in frequency. I’m not sure tightening gun laws is going to be the answer–maybe–but something needs to be done. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and families in Newton.

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    1. Valerie Leung Post author

      Tightening gun laws may not solve everything but it has to be a start at the very least, don’t you think? Another issue is healthcare – in many of these cases, the shooter has suffered some sort of mental issue (at least based on news reports). So perhaps better healthcare is another starting point? Attitude is also a very big part. If you look at other similar tragedies around the world, reactions from the populace tend to be more “let’s take these guns away” whereas we so often hear Americans say “I’m going to buy myself a gun to protect myself”. Now, again, this could just be the news and perceptions we are presented with as outsiders, so forgive me if I am making too many generalisations here. Whatever the case, we all agree something has to be done because we all mourn with you.

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