From the moment I tabbed over to a news website and read the words “Massacre” I got tense. Not another shooting, not more carnage. My mind instantly thought of just a day ago a local college was put on lock down because someone who had car jacked was chased by police onto campus and decided to hide there. My son’s friends were tweeting about text messages they got from their school. The first one said, “Don’t come to campus possible gunman.” The second one said, “If you are on campus hide.” Scary. My son and I discussed how it took police hours to search the large property. It ruined a lot of people’s day. But we also said, “They won’t take any chances, they don’t want another massacre.” There was that word again.
This is one of those times, where I didn’t think about anything. There was no mulling over the facts, the timing, the reaction of bystanders as I had in Colorado just a few short months ago. All I could do was cry. Sobbing is more like it. I couldn’t stop. My heart ached. Even as I’m typing this the tears are welling up again in my eyes. I didn’t even have all the facts yet. All I knew was that it happened at an elementary school and kids had been killed. And that is when my heart broke. I tried to suck it up. My reaction took my brain by surprise. It’s not something I’ve felt many times in my life. Usually I cry because of personal loss and sadness. Perhaps, sadly, I can watch the news almost every day and hear of people being killed, even children and not have a visceral reaction.
I was giving facts to Harry over chat and my son who was getting ready for work. My son walked out of the bathroom and said, “Did you say elementary school?” And I started to cry again. He came over and hugged me.
It’s Christmas! It was probably their last day before break. They were probably having little parties and giddy, thinking about Santa Claus and what he would bring. They kissed their mom goodbye this morning with only happy thoughts in their heads. Of course, I’m crying. How can I not cry? This isn’t mere sadness. It’s a reaction to evil. To horror. Timothy McVeigh’s bomb “happened” to blow a daycare to smithereens and 19 children were among the 168 people killed. And that is how the story reads. 168 people dead including 19 children. It’s worse when it’s children. Way worse, for reasons we all understand.
I had planned to run out on my lunch and do a little Christmas shopping and I didn’t feel in the mood anymore but thought maybe it would keep me from crying. But at the first stop light the DJs on the radio started giving news reports. I hit mute, started sobbing again and called my daughter who was at school. I knew she probably wouldn’t answer but I had to tell her how much I loved her. As I was leaving the message she texted me, “Um mom, I still have 8 minutes left of class.” I texted back, “I know baby I just love you.” She texted, “What’s wrong?” I texted, “A whole bunch of little kids died today at school.” She called me.
As I gave her the details she repeated everything I said to her classmates who were alerted from their phones when people they knew started Tweeting strange things. I hung up with her still in tears and called Harry. Usually, I don’t call without making sure I won’t be interrupting him at work, but today I didn’t care. I sat in my car, illegally talking on my cell phone while I drove, and both of us were in tears. I drove past where my daughter had attended middle school and kids were flooding out onto the streets. As I talked to Harry, I thought, it could have been right here. There are 20 kids all standing in a group. If someone wanted to, they could mow them all down right now.
Just so sad. Harry and I met for dinner and it’s all we could talk about in between hugs. Long ones. I just wanted to melt into his big huge chest and arms as if I were a little kid wanting protection from all that is evil in the world. My eyeballs hurt, my nose is red. We sat at a booth in a restaurant bar watching a family owned welding company have their Christmas party and gift exchange. Lots of drinking, lots of laughter, jokes, whoops and hollers. It was a strange setting as there were flat screens everywhere and now and then they would flash information about the death that happened today.
Harry is so behind with work, especially after the distractions of the news events today. I know the only reason he agreed to even see me for two hours today was because he knew I needed it. He loves me. He really does.
I felt almost every emotion I could feel today. But anger was definitely one of them. So angry. I can’t fathom the pain so many parents are in tonight. It’s not just losing a child, as if that were not bad enough. It’s the horror of it all. The senselessness.
Harry and I have talked about whether we should have a child. What it might look like. How we would educate it, and raise it. How brilliant it would be. We love this child so much already and we probably won’t even ever have one. But if we did it would be a weighty decision and commitment to set aside our wants for 18 years to make sure whatever happened was best for them. Kids are such precious, precious gifts. Immeasurable pain and joy comes from them. I was thinking tonight, what if it had been us? My little 5-year-old?
All I can do tonight is pray. Pray for the families that have lost people they love. Pray for that community. Pray for comfort, a peace that surpasses understanding. Pray that the ripple effect of pain that will be felt for years is somehow lessened.
Tomorrow we find out if my daughter got accepted to her first choice school. It’s kind of iffy. She’s on the edge. But if tomorrow we will read no, I can’t tell you that I will be a little happy. Because that will mean she will most likely live with me next year. I’m in no hurry to give her up to this dark world. No hurry at all.
Tonight I wish that Harry and I were already married and that I could put my head on his arm and bring my leg over his so I could listen to him breathe. It’s just that kind of a night.