After Friday, I tried to write down some of my thoughts, hoping it would help me process what happened, if that is even possible. I’m not sure this is the right place for them, but if nothing else, they mark a pause for the families of Newtown.
When I heard there had been another school shooting, my first instinct was to reject it, to hold my ears the way a child would to keep the information out. But of course I couldn’t and the expected range of emotions flooded my mind as I tried to assimilate the news. Unable to tolerate even a hint of any one emotion, I involuntarily shut each one down before it took hold and overwhelmed me. A protective reflex. I tried to bring up words to describe how I felt in hopes of grounding myself in rational thought, channeling the emotion into a format I could process. But there are no words… the ones that I came up with were hopelessly shallow, cliché. It’s better to be silent.
Today I went Christmas shopping with my older daughter, my 6-year-old. We’ve been planning this outing for a week. As we walked to town, she skipped and trotted and talked my ear off with her ideas for presents for her sisters. The air was chilly, the sky a piercing blue. I squinted against the bright winter sun, feeling both irritated and reassured that it rose on schedule today. I want life to pause to let the devastation sink in; instead I am numbly propelled forward as the day continues at its usual pace, unaware.
Like every other parent who did not lose a child yesterday, I am grateful that my children are safe and sound, sleeping in their beds. But I also feel intense relief that it wasn’t my town, my school, my family. It is appropriate to be grateful for the safety and health of one’s own children, but to feel relief that it was someone else’s? As I sort through the guilt of voicing that statement, I recognize an acceptance and helplessness that it will be someone’s child. In that acceptance, I go on with life knowing the horror of this particular instance will fade; in that helplessness, I live every day with the fear that at some point it might be my child, and there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
I know people will pause for as long as they can, but time will sweep us back into the norm, mercifully, rightfully, allowing us to heal. But with healing comes acceptance, and we should never accept that a gunman murdered 20 children. No matter how well time relieves us of this intense grief, we should never give in to the acceptance.