I’ve had the television off all weekend. I heard about Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT on Twitter and then got on my smartphone and started googling. I got my information during the weekend from USA Today and Tumblr on my Kindle. The television stayed off.
On Sunday, I had to tell my kids about what happened. Surely, someone would mention it in school on Monday, and I wanted them to know that they would be safe even if I wasn’t sure I believed it.
I told my middle son first – he’s older and more fretful. He would have the most questions and the most logical solutions. I was afraid that his logic would take him to staying home. He was okay, and for a short while, so was I. And then my daughter sat down with us. I looked at her and started to speak; to explain to her what I had just told my son, and I don’t know why I didn’t realize it on Friday, how these things happen, we hear them and we immediately dismiss them into our multi-tasking minds of so much nonsense.
I looked at my daughter as if I had only seen her for the first time at that very moment.
She’s in first grade. FIRST GRADE. The same age as Charlotte, Olivia, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Jesse, James, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison. Three quarters of the children killed are my daughter’s age and grade, and I didn’t realize it until Sunday night.
I couldn’t’ speak. I almost couldn’t breathe.
I sent them to bed intending to watch the news for the first time, but I didn’t. I kept the television off. I kept the computer off. I sat in the quiet, not doing anything really, numb and thinking back on the violence that I’ve been on the periphery on; violence that’s affected my life recently. I should say indirectly, but while I haven’t been physically assaulted, I do feel that I’ve been directly affected; emotionally definitely, becoming proactive in some ways and withdrawn in others.
Within the last two years, I’ve received a phone call that my best friend was shot, his roommates murdered. There were 3AM phone calls and a move for him. In several things that I recall and write about, I’m a little surprised at how many begin with ‘my friend who was shot last spring.’
In July, I spent an intense morning in back-and-forth-have-you-heard-from-is-everyone-okay phone calls and text messages after the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting and had to keep that from my son, the Batman enthusiast. That weekend we still went to see Brave. I couldn’t help but to look around at the exits, knowing the best way to get out of the theatre, scrutinizing my fellow moviegoers in a sad is this what our society has come to way.
On Friday, December 14th, while my children were in their school, where I think the security is lax but am often chided for being overprotective and paranoid, I had to wait quietly for them to come home as the families in Newtown waited to hear about which of their children were murdered.
And I think it could never happen here.
I thought that about September 11th.
And May 7th.
And now December 14th.
These are no longer just dates on a calendar. These are moments when my life was touched by violent death.
How many more are like me?
I worry about my friend in Israel and our friend, the State Trooper but now I need to worry when my kids go to the mall or the movies; or to school?
Last week, there was a shooting in a mall in Portland, Oregon. My first thought? Do we know anyone in Portland? Who should we call?
There’s a sigh of relief. No. No one we know. And it’s already gone. We’ve moved onto the next one.
No one will be moving on from Newtown.
Sandy Hook is September 11th for those families. And for the rest of us, it is something that we can, and should not, ever forget.
Next week is Christmas.
I can’t wrap my head around it.
My daughter is in first grade just like all of the murdered children.
We have to make 2013 safer for our kids, for our friends, for our families.
It won’t just bebetter; we need to make it better.