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.