Reflections after a tragedy

This weekend I loved my kids with abandon. I butterfly kissed, painted, baked, tea partied, and crawled around the house giving horse rides. I let them eat french fries and watch too much TV. They stayed up late, then we read extra books and sang extra lullabies.

This was one of the best weekends of my family’s life.

In between all of this, I wiped my tears away hoping no one noticed. I weathered sudden panics and blinked back tears again.

Everywhere I went I saw children radiantly accepting extra affection. Another kiss, squeeze, smile, tousle of the hair. Parents, brokenhearted, lavished their kids with love, attention, indulgence, and total appreciation.

What is normally taken for granted was decidedly not.

I can barely breathe when I think of the children, teachers, first responders, and community of Newtown. I picture the two little faces I know and love so well on every one of those lost kids. Dread and terror just don’t seem like strong enough words.

So I was present this weekend. I relished my son running around the house at bedtime wearing nothing but a pull-up and red cape. I ate up my daughter’s manipulative doe eyes and I gave her all the cuddles she craved.

Not understanding that anything was amiss, that part of the world broke on Friday, my kids did what kids do: took complete advantage of their mother’s apparent temporary insanity. They brazenly asked for dessert after breakfast, complete furniture rearrangement for an authentic home movie theater experience, later bed times, more candy. I said yes.

In the midst of my grief and fear, I’ve changed in a way that I sincerely hope can’t be unchanged. Despite all my sarcasm, frustration, irritability, and joking, my children are beyond precious to me. So why not just tuck them in one last time? Fetch one last drink of water? There are far too many parents out there tonight who can’t. They would give anything for a prolonged bedtime routine.

Shattered – Thoughts for Newtown, CT shooting victims

I am mad and angry and so heartbroken and mad again. I can’t stop crying. How could this happen?

I have a 5-year-old in kindergarten. I’ve been in his classroom. It’s a room full of tiny children with futures and hopes and wide-eyed innocence who would smile at an approaching gunman because the pending horror would never cross their innocent minds.

How could this happen? How can we live in a society where our children are in danger of being murdered at school?

How could this happen? I can’t wrap my head around it. I have no basis to grasp this.

I feel sick to my stomach. I think of my son’s shiny exuberance as he dashed up to the school bus this morning. Those kids in Newtown had that same shiny exuberance just this morning. Those moms had the same tired, haggard, possibly slightly annoyed feeling I did. And now their babies are either not coming home ever, or are coming home after witnessing unfathomable terror.

How can we possibly understand what’s happened? How in a moment everything unravels?

I know there are millions of staunch gun supporters who say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That is bullshit. GUNS KILL PEOPLE. Today, guns killed little bright-eyed children. A murderous psychopath armed with any other weapon could not have done this.

Is owning your gun worth this to you? Even if I’m wrong, and guns don’t kill people, isn’t it worth a shot to completely outlaw them? Isn’t it possible that it’s not a coincidence that countries with no guns have no school shootings? Is your ridiculous outdated right to bear arms that important? Is it worth the lives of these children? If you think so, I can’t understand you. And I’d like to see you defend yourself to a newly grieving mother.

I’m seething with anger. I’m devastated with sadness. I’m completely shattered and I’m a stranger to this community. This is not OK. We cannot go on this way.