Thursday, December 20, 2012
It has been a week since the Sandy Hook shootings, and like many, I still find myself reeling from the devastation that this has caused. It is a source of a river of pain that branches out infinitely, flowing endlessly and in every direction.
I have cried. I choked out the words to my husband while he was in the bathroom – dreading hearing myself say them out loud – picking that precise moment where we would (almost) be guaranteed privacy. I have cried at inopportune times. I have cried and then had to make up pithy excuses for my crying jag to my children. I have cried in sympathy for those parents, who realised that their children’s last moments were possibly spent in terror. And there was nothing they could have done, no ‘Life is Beautiful’ game they could have played to spare them from the terrible reality of what was about to happen. I have cried about the fierce maternal instinct of those teachers, some of who weren’t even mothers, but who defended their students like a mother bear would her cubs. I have cried thinking about the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles who will have to look at Christmas gifts they bought for their little angels.
I have managed to shelter my children from what has happened; I don’t know in America if I would have been lucky enough to have that choice, and my heart aches for those parents who would have liked to do the same for their young children, but weren’t able to: an event like this owns you and the general population, and it would be nearly impossible not to offer some explanation for the palpable sadness. It would be seen on faces of people in Dunkin Donuts, in line at the ATM, waiting for Santa photos.
Although everyone is devastated by this tragedy, when you live with a six-year-old kindergarten student, it makes it all the more real. My six-year old is the funniest person in the house, often without meaning to be. He asks questions like, ‘Do Scottish people wear pants now?’ He thinks Santa needs to get some Chinese elves, so that he can keep up with the demand for electronic goods. He thinks his snacks taste better from a blue bowl. His world is Lego, playing cowboys and getting lost in picture books. The joy of parenting reaches unseen heights when you have a six-year-old, when even they can finally laugh at the demands and frustrations of their own ancient history of toddlerhood. Adam Lanza was a six-year-old once.
While it is impossible to make sense of any of this, and questions emerge about the issues of mental health and gun control, I continue to be moved by the small and not-so-small acts of kindness that are emerging. These, too, flow out like a river, and may these acts of kindness continue until they reach the depth of the oceans. Mr Rogers tells us to ‘Always look for the helpers.’ This is God’s work, this is the Christmas spirit. Hug not just your babies tight this season, but everyone you can.