Connecticut. We are all thinking about it. We are all trying to process it. We might try to make sense of it, but it’s senseless. We can wonder why God allowed this to happen, but it wasn’t something God wanted to happen. We can try to find the good, but there isn’t any. We can hug our own kids a little tighter…and here’s the thing…for me, hugging my kids a little tighter is a very outward admission that I’m glad it wasn’t them. That’s me internalizing this horrible thing and making it about me. That’s me pushing back the mental image of it having been them & immediately being thankful that it wasn’t. I can’t internalize something this terrible. It would get inside me too deeply.
A few years ago, a very close friend’s son was facing brain cancer. Scary brain cancer. I internalized it. That made it so much more painful for me & less helpful to her. I needed to be whatever she needed at any given time. I needed to be a safe place for her to share and feel instead of forcing back on her my own emotional reaction to whatever news she had that day. I spent a week or so in a funk, trying to love my kids so hard that they’d never get brain cancer. I tried use my gratefulness that it wasn’t them as some sort of insurance that it would never happen to them.
We all manage our emotions in different ways. That’s all fine & good. That experience taught me to focus more on mourning over a tragedy for the tragedy itself and less on the “what if”.
That afternoon, I did snuggle Lulu pretty hard before her nap & thought, “You are here with me. You are safe. You smell like toothpaste & fabric softener. You are here with me.” And I sat by the door for the 10 minutes before the bus arrived with the big kids; I usually try to relish those last minutes by either being productive or relaxing. They arrived & we just sat together for a while. I told them what happened very matter-of-factually, avoiding any unnecessary details. They were both like, “Yeah well, we do drills.” I let it go at that. Yep, they do drills. And if those drills make them feel safe, then that’s good enough for me. I’m trying to make sure they don’t see it on TV or hear it on the radio.
Speaking of seeing it, I do want to state my opinion on the images we are seeing on TV and even facebook. It’s one thing to stay updated on the facts of the event. It’s another to stare at images of someone’s very worst moment just to take in the emotion. In particular, there is one image of a class being led across a parking lot. One little girl is obviously hysterical. Her mouth is wide open in a scream & she is clinging to the student in front of her. That image is everywhere. That image of her very worst moment, hopefully ever, we are seeing over & over and eventually we will feel less & less emotion when we see it. But that won’t make that moment any less horrible for her.
Hug your kids. Admit that you’re glad it wasn’t them. Say a prayper & mourn the tragedy. Have a glass of wine or a diet coke. Take a breath. Find something light.
This is the first time I’ve shared a personal opinion here on something big like this. I’m a little nervous to post it for other people to read. It might piss people off. It might come off as insensitive. Please feel free to let me know in the comments.