Thursday, December 20, 2012

I couldn't feel so I tried to touch

I've started and stopped this post more times than I can count. On December 14th 2012, in Newtown Connecticut a gunman (who I am intentionally not naming) killed 26 people, 6 adults and 20 precious children. It's one of those moments that will become a "where were you when?" like 9/11 or Columbine. I was at home, watching the mid-day news when they mentioned the barest details and added they were cutting over to a special report. Joshua was asleep, like an angel, in his crib. Stomp was home sick, a blessing in my mind because all I wanted in that moment was to hold him as close to me as possible, to pull him safe, to shield him with my body and my heart and wrap him in love and keep him safe from all the hurt and hate and horror of the world. But I didn't want to scare him either. I cried silently for a while, sent up as many prayers as I could utter and finally when I had it sort oftogether I called him out to talk to me. I told him I was feeling a little sad and would it be okay if we "took a snuggle" (what we call it in this house). He looked at me a little funny but with everything that's gone on lately, he's used to Mama acting a little wacky and above all else, Stomp is a sweet, sensitive, loving kid. He never passes up a chance to "take a snuggle". We rocked for a while on the couch and finally I set him loose to go do what boys do when they're supposed to be resting (namely: play Minecraft). I sat there, dazed, for most of the rest of the afternoon. Oh I went about my business. I fixed supper. I gave baths. I changed diapers and read stories and did all the duties that were laid before me by the Lord in my calling as a mother. I spent a lot of time snuggling Joshie (who was also sick). I cried a lot. I prayed a lot. It became almost immediately clear that a media blackout was necessary, so I shut the tv and the radio off and put some Chris Ledoux and tried to just be in the moment as much as I could.

This tragedy isn't mine to claim, of course, but I'm an empathetic person. I feel things very deeply, even the tragedies and sorrows of strangers. I would say it's something that's come on since I've been a mom, but that's not true. I was barely out of high school when Columbine hit and I wept my way through that, too. It's just how my Mama raised me. I knew she too would be crying that night and she was.

There is always a flare up of discussion after these kinds of incidents about what the root cause is. It's gun control. No wait it's video games. No wait it's rock or rap music. No wait it's health care or the lack thereof. No wait it's the parents. No wait it's violent movies. The truth is, in my mind, it's probably a combination of about 87 different things, some we can help and some we can't. And should we discuss these things? Absolutely. Should we do it before the bodies have even been buried and the parents have even had a chance to start to grieve? No. Should we do it with such viciousness and ferocity and vitriol that we lose friendships over it? Absolutely not. And we should be ashamed of ourselves if we do.

This took me a long time to write. Not just because I wanted to do it justice. But because I wanted to do the thing I was encouraging people to do...I wanted to spend extra time holding my babies. I wanted to snuggle and read The Hobbit to Nathan who was older than many of the victims. I wanted to teach him things about what to do and how to stand up for yourself and how to protect yourself and your family and I felt a sudden urgency to teach him as much as I possibly could. I'm sure he got tired of talking to me but I just couldn't stop. And oh Joshie...Joshie, Joshie, Joshie. I wanted to soak up every second of baby snuggles. I wanted to wrap that kid up and tuck him under my chin and just smell his hair and feel the soft way he still opens and closes his fists in your clothes when he gets sleepy. I wanted to listen to the new words he's learning. It became my life's mission to teach him to say "love you" because I so badly wanted him to know what it meant (he doesn't of course) but I wanted to think he did and I told him I loved him as much as my lips could say it.

I couldn't figure out how to close this except to say that I'm praying for the victims and their families. I'm praying for their community as a whole, that they may heal and come together and love may grow out of sorrow. I'm praying for mamas everywhere that they get the meaning of this tragedy and take it to heart and honor the loss and use it to treat their kids the right way. And then I'm going to close with a link to the tribute that The Voice did to honor their victims. I found it a moving and fitting tribute (and I've always adored Leonard Cohen). Be kind to each other, y'all.


  1. I don't think I really let myself cry until this very moment. After I read the news about 2:30PM, I immediately checked out my two youngest kids and took them to my Mom's house for us to enjoy. I held it together to talk with Connor (9) about it all and to answer his questions. I shut the radio off on Monday so that he wouldn't be afraid to go to school or know how afraid I was to drive away without them. Niklas (6) doesn't get it. I am happy about that. I sit here now with tears streaming down my face, silently sobbing while my kids play in the other room for the angels that our Lord called home. I won't even pretend to know why they were needed in heaven now. It opens another wound of a dear friend who was killed in Iraq in 2007. Eric had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. His hugs warmed your soul. And selfishly, I still believe that this world needed him more than God. But what do i know?
    Thanks for sharing that though because it was beautiful. Peace be with you!

  2. You encapsulated the feelings of so many moms so perfectly. And that tribute on The Voice was absolutely beautiful.


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