This weekend, silence has actually been terrible. I noticed it the first time Friday night after Al and I climbed the stairs to bed. As we turned out the lights and lay our heads down, silence fell over our house for the first time since the moment I'd heard the news from Newtown. Immediately, the thoughts and images and sounds I'd been shoving back hard from my conscious mind came flooding in like a burning tidal wave. Medical examiners and body bags and the worst sunset of our lives outside school windows -- windows which that morning glistened innocent, honest and open, probably with apples and kites taped up on them, or maybe Christmas trees and snowflakes. Those same windows now glowing artificial white-yellow in the falling darkness as grieving, heavy shadows moved behind them in classrooms, finishing their job as mothers and fathers waited the impossible wait. I sobbed into Al's back in the silence and I know mothers everywhere sobbed with me. This is too horrible for us to bear.
Yesterday, late in the afternoon, Al took the kids out to run a quick errand and I stayed back alone to work on a project. As the garage door closed behind them, the silence ushered in thoughts of those mothers and fathers in the waning hours of Saturday, not having slept or eaten since Thursday night, the shock wearing off perhaps and now having to face the reality of arranging funerals and memorial services, thinking of their babies lying across town, alone, without them. I couldn't even cry then. I just sat still and empty in the horror and begged God for I don't even know what. These babies had siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles and babysitters and the other mothers at the bus stop, and none of them know what to beg God for either.
Again in the quiet of last night I lay awake, crying with the mothers. My children had been loud and bossy and cranky, but they smell so good and they're warm and soft and Peabody was upside down in his bed as I tucked him in on my way past his room. When I picked him up to flop him head-side-up again his arms went around my neck and he sleep-hugged me tight with his soft cheek on mine. Both kids had their teddy bears in their arms. Both kids had had good days. Safe days. Suddenly I felt stone-heavy guilty for every moment of frustration I've felt over the bickering and the way they follow me and ask me so many questions and read over my shoulder and always want my tea. My children are alive and innocent and oblivious and just children and I'm the worst mother because I don't weep for the joy of that enough to somehow make it up to twenty mothers whose beautiful, sweet-smelling babies won't read ever over their shoulders again, even though those mothers didn't even mind, probably.
Today I sat in my room alone and read an excerpt from a speech a Newtown father made Saturday night about his six-year-old daughter Emilie, who is gone. He loved her so much. She delighted him and had a heart of gold. She was smart, and beautiful and nurtured her younger sisters with deep love and compassion. That he could utter those words about her now, in his immediate and crushing grief, crying, with tears streaming, was the most courageous and beautiful act that I can even imagine. And I thought to myself as I finished reading, I hope he got to say those same words about her on Wednesday, to a group of co-workers maybe, and I hope he beamed with pride and had a smile on his face so wide that it almost split him open, and I hope he never once, even jokingly, apologized for bragging about his little girl. Oh, I hope he got to do that Wednesday. I hope he just got to brag about his little Emilie with no crying, and no tears streaming.