Two nights ago, I wrote a pithy blog post about the 50 shades of frazzled that the kids make me. It was peppered with humor and anecdotes and just needed a few finishing touches to be ready for publishing. I was going to have it up this weekend.
And then Friday dawned. And, with it, a new variety of horror was unleashed on our nation. Two days have passed, and I have passed two days in a zombie-like stupor. Nothing feels right and I have a nagging feeling that things might not seem right again, in a September 11 kind-of-way. Something in our collective psyche was shattered on Friday; and the pieces, once glued back together, will never be what they were before.
This particular school shooting was a different kind of horror, though I am certainly not downplaying any of the too-many horrific school shootings. But this one was different. Most painfully, there’s the quantity and ages of the victims. To think of my daughter’s kindergarten classroom and those bright-eyed, rambunctious little kids…and to think of the kind of depravity necessary to do such a horrendous thing…it’s unfathomable. Then there’s the time of year. Every holiday season forever will recreate this event for the families of those smallest victims. On a personal note, it happened in my small state, where all towns feel like your neighbor. I feel like my home has been violated. It sounds crazy, but that’s just how it feels. What I am perhaps having the hardest time with is the apparent complete and total disconnect between the perpetrator and the many, many victims. This wasn’t a case of a spurned lover taking revenge, or the bullied retaliating against the bullies. When news reports were identifying the perpetrator’s mother as a kindergarten teacher, it almost “made sense,” that some kids got caught in the crossfire between the crazy guy and his mother. But that wasn’t the case, and those poor little kids didn’t get caught in the crossfire. It seems completely intentional that he did what he did, with sheer savagery. This is a new kind of terrorism. For so many reasons, this crime has violated so much.
I was itching to go pick the kids up from school early on Friday and to just feel their warm bodies next to mine as I hugged them and told them I loved them. I waited until school was over and then picked them up, which I don’t usually do. I asked Nadia if I could have a hug and, in her sweet-hearted manor, she eagerly agreed, wrapping her scrawny arms around me so tightly. I was so grateful. Grace, in her typical manor, tolerated my hug but didn’t return it, but I didn’t care too much that she didn’t return it. It’s more my job to demonstrably love her than the other way around. And then we went to Sonic, got some slushies and came home. Liam picked the absolute right day to dump his slushie on the living room carpet. Though I was grateful it was lemon and, therefore, clear in color, I wouldn’t have had the heart to be mad if it was grape purple.
It has been a quiet weekend, with much less yelling than usual. If Nadia had asked me today for the pony she’s mentioned so many times, there’s a good chance we’d have one in the backyard (or in her bedroom) right now. The girls did crafts and painted and stayed up late…all their favorite things. I tried to give them cookies after having pizza (and candy for the pre-dinner snack). It was a day of indulgences, simply because today we have breath and we never know how short life will be. I can’t think of all the tears being shed for the indulgences 20 beautiful little kids will never get to experience again.
I was watching my kids horsing around tonight. Grace was lying with her back on the floor, knees pointing up to the ceiling. Declan was sitting on top of her, hopping in the way babies do as they push off their legs. They were both giggling and laughing. Nadia and Liam were racing around the house, playing chase. Grace put Declan with his back on the floor and blew raspberries on his stomach. Liam was quick to join in, as he is a raspberry-blower extraordinaire. It was a handful of moments without fighting, with only love for each other. And all I could think of was how heartbroken any of my kids would be without any of the others, and the changed family dynamics of those 20 households. Not just parents without children, but sisters without brothers and brothers without sisters, brothers without brothers and sisters without sisters.
I usually can muster some sympathy for the perpetrator, too. A person so filled with anger and hate that they can do something so horrible seems like someone who should be pitied for their intense misery. It’s harder this time, but I have to believe he was a tormented soul. Anyone “normal” couldn’t do what he did. I am sorry for his dad and his brother, as it’s likely they will be scrutinized, vilified and tormented by the deeds their son and brother did. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to know that your child – the person you love more than your own life, the innocent baby you held in your arms – could unleash such horror on the world. The guilt, the sorrow, the questions, the end of your life as you know it.
Nothing seems right. A nation has been brought to its knees with broken hearts. Nothing seems right, except to hug our kids and remind them we love them.