My friends. My heart is so heavy tonight as I write this. Time and again the peace of our country, our world, is shattered by senseless violence. Only this time it entered our schools and took away our youngest. Twenty little children, six brave teachers and administrators and the mother of the shooter. It's quite unbelieveable, really. And yet, it seems to happen again and again.
I was on the way to school to pick Callum up early from his exams when I first heard the news of what had happened. Thank God I was on the way to school. I knew he was safe. I knew he was safe, but I couldn't wait to put my eyes on him, to see his fist raised in triumph: another test done. Not much was known then, just before noon on Friday. But even then, as a mother headed to pick up her son, I could only imagine the fear that all those parents felt rushing to their own children's school. When you pick up your kid at off hours at Callum's school, there's a gate and a security guard, and you must stop at the entrance before coming onto campus. You get to know them (and I have some favorites) so that they simply wave you through each day. On Friday, I said to the guard who was standing there, "Thank you for being here." He looked at me like I had two heads! I imagine now he understands why.
This is not my tragedy. It's not my event to live through. I don't get to appropriate it. And you, my dear friends, certainly aren't coming here for sage words on violence or tragedy or loss. Yet, I'm a mother. I'm a parent. Our lives are centered around our home and school community. I am usually good at compartementalizing events such as this. I can see them, but they don't come in. This got in. I was on my way to Callum's school to pick him up when I learned the news. Kids should be as safe at school as they are at home. And these little children. Barely students. At six and seven, school is still such a wonder. They were still in love with the idea of homework. They didn't yet know if they were good or bad at math. They were good at being alive and now they're gone.
Really, I have no words.
So what did we do this weekend? We tried to do what I suggested to Erin at one point on Friday, we chose light and joy. Callum and I cooked together. We spent the weekend with the kids in our life. Dinner with neighbors. Another neighbor's daughter's birthday party. We spent time together. We laughed and I felt my eyes fill with tears a lot. Callum went to play with his friends, which is well and right and just what he should do. He studied for his exams, which is also well and right and just what he should do. But I thought a lot about those sweet and spunky kids, at my favorite age, those early elementary years. And their families. Those mothers and fathers. And the teachers? Teachers? Underpaid, unappreciated. I have dear, dear friends who are teachers, and they shouldn't be on the front lines. Oh, I can't bear the heartache.
I've had snippets of poems slipping through my head all weekend that I've thought to share with you. W.H. Auden, Stop All the Clocks
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
And also, Laurence Binyon who wrote For the Fallen about the loss of so many young men during World War I.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Callum and I play around with lovingkindness meditation. We are by no means practitioners of it, but anytime we fear that some one is hurting or in distress, we send them lovingkindness. I hate to send you to Wikipedia for more information, but it seems the most accessible approach. We've been doing it for years. We've been doing it a lot this weekend.
May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be well
May you be peaceful and at ease
May you be happy
Callum and I send this lovingkindness out to everyone in Sandy Hook who is hurting
May they be filled with lovingkindness
May they be well
May they be peaceful and at ease
May they be happy