"Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven." ― Henry Ward Beecher
It was quiet in the house for the first time since Friday’s news. I imagined for a brief moment what it would mean for my home to be quiet for reasons besides napping and an outing with Daddy. I nearly crumbled. I called my sister and cried hard for the first time. Those faces. Those beautiful, lovely, angelic faces—imprinted on my mind since catching a glimpse of the news reports at a sporting goods store. I was on my way to an appointment with my midwife and stopped to buy my husband a pair of new sneakers, a surprise for Christmas. There, huddled around a TV—hanging above a treadmill—patrons looked on in dismay. The store clerk made a point of stating that the shooter was (at that time) thought to to be the son of a teacher from the school, an adult son. I had actually heard of this horror via a New York Times text notification a few hours before but seeing the story unfold on the television, without my children at my side, brought it home in a different way. I held back what could have easily become sobs. Looking at another woman’s face who stood watching, I could see that she was doing the same. A collective sob could be felt across the globe.
Everyone seems to be asking, “why?” Why would someone commit such a horrendous act? Why would God allow something like this to happen? Why haven’t we done anything about gun control and better mental health screening in this country after so many atrocities? The list goes on and on. I have not been able to go there yet. Gazing at my son Jonah engrossed in a book, all I can think is, “how?” How will those parents ever go on? Observing my smaller son Adrian, his sparkling eyes, the ways he says, “niiiice” when I stroke his belly, I wonder how those poor souls will ever recover. Looking around our home with the fingerprints on the fridge and the sticky noodles in the floorboards—unchanged—I wonder how some parts of our society go on so swiftly? Many, many are in the grips of this tragedy—many of them parents—following every related news story. Many are getting to work—signing petitions relating to gun control, raising flags about the state of mental health care in this country. And some are moving on either unaware of what this tragedy really means for those who have lost or just too afraid to face what it means that something like this can happen in this great and prosperous place. My heart weighs heavy. I watch almost none of the coverage on television—wanting to shield my children, wanting to shield myself. There is a newsreel going on in my own mind though. There is one child—an angelic little girl—with eyes like my son’s. There is another with eyebrows arched like my nephews’. I shutter a little every time I think of them. I think of them all the time.
Those poor parents will benefit from any changes we may be able to make to prevent further tragedies like this one. With this they may feel at least as if their children have not died in vain—that this devastating event was a turning point for our country. What they will want for us to know, though, is what we must do. For them, we must treasure every single moment that we possibly can with these beautiful creatures in our midst. For them we must embrace it all. Every single cry and protest. Every single expression of joy. Listen, so closely, they would tell us, for the laughter. Listen to their questions, their many, many questions. And touch them so gently. Forgive them for being little and not knowing. Allow them to learn at their own pace. Appreciate them and cherish them and let them know how very much you care. Spend with them, each day, as if it were their last. For in truth, we can never really know when that time will come.