Let me begin by saying I don't have answers. To any of it. If you're looking for a blog to part the heavens and help you make sense of this madness, this isn't it. Someone much more educated than I am is probably who you're looking for. And let me also begin by saying that I have no idea what's going to come out of my fingers today. I am not writing this as a pastor. I am not writing this as a counselor, as a parenting "coach", or as a blogger. I am simply writing this as a mom.
And like you, one with a broken heart.
Friday morning, I was having coffee with my dear friend Sarah. She sat at my kitchen counter, while I was in my bathrobe and messy hair, making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. My husband had just returned from dropping off our daughter at school, and my almost-ten-month-old was sitting in his high chair, still pajama-clad and eating bananas and waffles. Sarah and I talked about Christmas gifts, about how One Direction tickets are too expensive, and Rod chimed in about how cod liver oil should help her aching back. We laughed, giggled, and held my baby. We sipped, solved, and wondered about the right age to talk about where babies come from-- like you're supposed to do on a normal morning. Like you're supposed to do because your daughters are best friends and you scored an added bonus by finding out you really enjoy each other's company as well. Like you're supposed to do when it's Christmas and you feel the excitement in the air.
Like you're supposed to do after you've dropped your kids off at school. Their second home.
Not like you're supposed to do while at that very moment unbeknownst to you, 1,200 miles away, the darkest kind of darkness on earth was creeping into a little town and rewriting its history forever.
I don't care about the theories. I don't care about the media frenzy. I don't care about the debates on gun control. I don't care about people's views on what his mother should or should not have done. I don't care about making a politically correct stand on gun control or mental health medicine right this minute. I don't care to weigh in about the judgments being made on the fact that there were weapons in the house. I don't care about what the "experts" say. I don't care about he said/she said/they said/we said.
But I do care.
I care that Charlotte insisted on wearing her new pink Christmas dress and boots to school that day. That rambunctious Daniel knocked out those missing two front teeth of his. I care that Miss Davino had a gift to work with autistic kids and that her fiance had asked her parents for her hand in marriage the day before her life was stolen. Little Olivia had impeccable table manners and Little Ana sang "Come Thou Almighty King" like someone much more seasoned than her six young years allowed. Madeline loved to play. Catherine had red hair. Chase just won a mini-triathlon. Six year old Jesse ate a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich with a chocolate milk for breakfast that morning. James was a swimmer. Grace was blonde haired and blue eyed. Mrs. Murphy's parents waited shoulder to shoulder next to parents of first graders for word on their own 52 year old daughter's fate. I care that Emilie was an artist with a gift for making appropriate cards for hurting people. That Jack will be buried in his hero, NY Giants' wide receiver Victor Cruz's number 80 jersey. Noah had a twin sister in another room. Dawn was not just the principal, but also the Sandy Hook Book Fairy. Caroline had a contagious grin and a cherubic face. Jessica loved horses. Sweet Avielle loved the fall colors in Connecticut. Lauren Rousseau said her first year teaching at Sandy Hook was the best year of her life. Mary Sherlach was a year away from retirement. Victoria Soto's favorite color was green. Benjamin was growing up in a musical family. Allison was shy. I care that Dylan moved with his family to Newtown from the UK last year.
I care that there's now 27 families who were planning on celebrating Christmas next week who won't be making spirits bright. 27 trees with tagged gifts around them, all now untouched forever. 27 sets of plans for parties, vacations, and snowball fights on Christmas break. I care that there were 20 small beds empty that night, and will be so for every night after. 20 sets of pj's unworn. 20 stuffed animals unhugged. 20 refrigerator doors that will now be missing masterpieces. 20 mothers who will be shorted a nightly lullaby performance from now on. That's 20 sets of kisses forever bottled up in the hearts of parents until eternity. 27 sets of dreams, aspirations, successes and failures.
He had plans too. At one time, the shooter (who had a name, Adam), was a baby. He was born, like any other baby. In time, he learned to crawl, then walk. He played with a balloon in the grocery store, had to be potty trained, and tried to figure out what clouds were. He experienced the terrifying first day of kindergarten, and the awkwardness of middle school. He was a child, one time. Innocent. Helpless. Fragile. Voiceless. Loved by his mother. Looking for love. Lost/found/lost again... Just. Like. All. Of. Us.
And there was a plan for HIS life, too. This wasn't it.
Events like this surely open our eyes to the fallen world around us. It makes the winter wind feel that much colder. Makes the loneliness we feel seep deeper into our bones. Makes the angry of us angrier, the fearful more fearful. The darkness becomes darker than midnight ink.
What do we do now?
We grieve. We shut up. We stop tossing around what WE would have done. We don't point fingers at others, but point them at the man in the mirror, identifying the ugliness inside of ourselves. We wrap our arms around each other. We cry if we want to, loudly and from our toes. We worry for our children and their children. We contemplate packing them up and running to Nowhereland. We look at those faces the media keeps showing, and we mourn the loss of the light in those eyes. We fall upon the mercy of a loving God, who in NO way, shape, form, or fashion had a hand in this slaughter. We stop trying to say deep things and say simple things. We pine for the innocence that is being stripped away from our lives more every year. We pray. Hard. We love. Harder. We live goodness in front of our kids. We teach them the value of life-- from conception to elderly. We exemplify kindness and we extinguish cruelty, even among sibling rivalry and typical childhood banter. We hug them while they are small and even more so when they aren't small anymore. We give them a safe place to disagree with us, to be angry with us, and better yet-- we show them how to disagree and coexist. We listen to them while we cook dinner. We make eye contact with them as much as we can. We bathe them in esteem and we crown them with dignity. We empower them to make choices, making the difficult ones for them when their own governing fails. We say no, we say yes, we say maybe. We notice the freckles on their noses and we praise God for the stinkiness of their feet. We teach them to listen-- to authority, to others, and to the voice of God inside them. We celebrate them- from birthdays to plain days, and everything in between.
We keep living. We rally together. And we keep living.
We have to.
If we don't, the casualty list grows in other ways.
May the God of peace, mercy, and comfort wrap His arms around Newtown, Connecticut. And around you.