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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown

It's Sunday evening as I write this, and Al has the kids upstairs in the bath tub, so it's quiet down in the office. Too quiet today, where last week this quiet would've been a welcomed change from the loud chaos of two kids who'd been stuck inside for nearly 48 hours straight.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.




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6 comments:

  1. I don't know how Emilie's father maintained his composure like he did to share her with the world, as I lost my composure so quickly watching him--yet, I'm glad he did. This is so painful. As far removed as I am from this tragedy, I've lost myself in choking sobs more times than I can count this weekend. I don't know how my heart will heal, so I can't imagine how those who were directly touched by this will ever heal.

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    1. Erin, yes. And as a teacher and a mother, I know your heart is twice broken. I was touched by what you shared today and will be writing my kids' teachers emails tomorrow and praying for them this week especially.

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  2. Yes.

    You know what I keep fixating on? What are they going to do with the Christmas presents they have hidden? I just can't get that question out of my mind.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. My heart is SO heavy, truly beyond words. You spoke for me in this post, so thank you. I know, as a mother, because of this tragedy I will never be the same. I feel as though I've said those words before, but truly, this time, I mean it with every ounce of my soul and heart becuase how can I ever be the same!?!?? How can I know that 20 childrens parents (most of them the same age as my sweet boy) will never get another day with their child?? How can I not forever be changed??? I feel as though people have already "moved on" and I know you can't dwell forever, but goodness, honor these lives lost, change your ways, vow to be a better person/parent, don't let these sweet souls be gone in vain!!!!! I absolutely took in each word you said in this sentence, "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." I'll be the first to admit, when it comes to motherhood, I take so much for granted (sadly) but I vow with my entire soul, that stopped on Friday afternoon...I am forever changed. I pray that my sweet children will now see a side of me that perhaps they don't see that often, but that they so deserve. Because although I've always known that life is precious, and tomorrow is never guaranteed, this tragedy drives home that point more than I can even say in words!

    *Sorry for babbling :) Thank you for sharing!

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  4. My heart is just broken. I don't know what to say...thank you Megan for saying it. Prayers for all.

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Thoughts?