Monday, December 17, 2012

sandy hook elementary

On Saturday morning, Justin came into the kitchen and told me to give Claire and Grant extra hugs today. He was shaken and I asked what happened and he told me about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. We stood in the kitchen holding each other and crying and then wiping tears away because Claire came in and asked what was wrong. I told her we were sad.

Later that morning, alone in the apartment, I read about the shooting and cried again.

And that night, laying in bed I thought about parents in Newtown, the day after so much about their lives changed. I cried again and had such an ache inside.

When I was twelve, I saw Polly Klass on a magazine cover at the grocery store checkout. I was there on an errand, read the headline - something about a confession of murder or a body found - and walked home with the gallon of milk. I told my mom what I'd read. Polly was a year younger than me. Mom held me while I cried and she kissed my forehead and held me as long as I needed. She told me I have a tender heart and that it is a gift.

Empathy is a gift. We don't need to grapple with what we think we're supposed to feel about an event. We don't need to summon an immediate opinion or solution. I am okay just being sad for a little while. But in the middle of my sadness, I have also thought about the insight of empathy. My children did not die in a school shooting. It was not my school or my town. But when I think about Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown community, my sorrow is heavy. I whisper short, ineloquent but fervent prayers. Prayers born of feeling a fraction of sadness Newtown carries today.

Last night we took the kids to a Christmas tree lighting. I didn't want to go because I was tired. Our family has been swapping coughs and bellyaches for almost two weeks and my sleep hasn't been good. But Justin wanted to go, I think partly because we are both raw at the reminder that life remains so uncertain. We ate dinner out before the tree lighting. In the bathroom, another American woman started talking about the shooting. She'd seen my family, she said, the two little kids. She lost a child thirty years ago to cancer and so understands the grief a parent endures, but to lose a child so quickly, she said, that - and neither of us had anything to say about that kind of loss.


Anonymous said...

My tears have been at the surface this week, also. I think of Rachel, weeping for her children... and I pray for faith to overcome.

Sergio is Somewhere said...

this was beautiful. thank you for writing it.