That you are here—that life exists and identity,That the powerful play goes on,and you may contribute a verse.
Today marks three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut- about an hour drive from where I live now.
Twenty-six people lost their lives that December day when a young man walked into a school full of small children with murder in his heart. I will never understand that. That will never, ever make sense to me. It seems to me when these young men go on killing sprees they aren’t thinking about the people they actually kill. I think these young men are trying to destroy something bigger and harder to hold on to. I don’t know.
Countless lives were forever changed.
I am undone, looking at those numbers this morning.
When I look at those numbers, six adults and twenty 6 and 7-year-old children, I think about the daily routine. When you have children, especially more than one, trying to get everyone out the door can be a lot like trying to herd feral cats. As much as you may want each morning to be idyllic, chances are there’s a fair amount of stress getting everyone to school on time.
I cannot say for sure, but I am willing to bet that at least one of those twenty moms was having one of those days. You know those days when everything your child does seems as though its intention is to de-rail the getting out the door process? When you find yourself having the “WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?” for the nine millionth time and you wonder why tooth brushing is a daily negotiation?
One of those mornings when you find yourself exasperated and short-tempered, when you fail to appreciate how cute it is watching your kid try and tie their shoes and take over because ‘FOR THE LOVE can we just get going, already?’
One of those days when you drop your kid off at carpool, or put them on the bus, and think, “Damn it. I wish I could do that morning over again.” When you beat yourself up because the last words you spoke to your child were impatient?
At least one of those twenty moms was probably having one of those mornings.
I’m talking to her. I’m talking to that mom.
I worry about her.
I remember on more than one occasion rushing my daughter off to school and regretting having sent her out into the world that way. I would berate myself for having lost my temper, or hurried her unnecessarily instead of appreciating the 127th dandelion she stopped to admire, or her reflection in a puddle, or a banana slug and the long shiny trail it left in its wake as it wended its way across the walking trail.
The difference between me and the mom I worry about is that I got do-overs. We always think we will have time for do-overs. That we’ll get a chance to re-write the ending. To right the wrong.
When we lose someone suddenly, we tend to memorialize our last interaction with them in such a way as to make it precious. Please understand, precious does not mean wonderful. Precious does not even mean good. Precious simply means that we have assigned value to something- that we have deemed it more important than other things. We give it more weight. How many times do we dismiss a movie because we didn’t care for the ending? As though one little bit at the conclusion of the movie made the whole thing less good?
If there is a mom whose grief is even further complicated by the regret of that last morning, I hope she knows that particular morning is only precious because it was the last- not because one impatient breakfast, one hurried goodbye, one lost temper negates any of the good and beautiful and sacred. I hope she knows that she mothered well, and continues to mother well. She will always be that child’s mother. Every whispered prayer, every singsonged nursery rhyme, every frantic google, every nose wiped, every fevered brow kissed, every band-aid applied, every snuggle, every wish, every worry, every hope, every dream- it all still exists. It all still counts.
It all counts more than one morning.
The beautiful, messy, imperfect, love-filled life you created for your beloved child counts more than the dark end. Your love for your child was bright, and warm, and constant, and it illuminated the darkness, I am sure of it.
When your child’s life is impossibly short, when you are denied the do-overs, I’m guessing the beautiful becomes more sacred, and the difficult becomes more painful and seems to carry more weight.
As the authors of our lives and our relationships, we can be harsh critics of our own work. A poorly crafted line in a sonnet is given more weight than one that exists in a lengthy tome- but it’s still just a line.
It’s still just a line. One line in a breathtaking little poem.
The poem of your child’s life still lilts through the world. It still counts, and it is still beautiful. Your beloved child exists, even now, and the world is better for it.
We are holding you in our hearts, today.
Charlotte Bacon was 6.
Daniel Barden was 7.
Rachel Davino was 29
Olivia Engel was 6.
Josephine Gay was 7.
Ana Marquez-Greene was 6.
Dylan Hockley was 6.
Dawn Hocksprung was 47.
Madeleine Hsu was 6.
Catherine Hubbard was 6.
Chase Kowalski was 7.
Jesse Lewis was 6.
James Mattioli was 6.
Grace McDonnell was 7.
AnneMarie Murphy was 52.
Emilie Parker was 6.
Jack Pinto was 6.
Noah Pozner was 6.
Caroline Previdi was 6.
Jessica Rekos was 6.
Avielle Richman was 6.
Lauren Russeau was 30.
Mary Sherlach was 56.
Victoria Soto was 27.
Benjamin Wheeler was 6.
Allison Wyatt was 6.