Friday morning at work was highly productive. I came back from lunch, saw the news and then immediately became unproductive. All of a sudden responding to emails on strategic planning and various scheduling issues was simply unimportant. I cried at my desk. I cried in the bathroom. I cried when Hope and Atticus came home from school. I cried at night. I can physically feel my heart shake when I read about the Sandy Hook shooting. And I have lots to say....
... but people are already saying so much.
I spent the weekend loving my children, preparing for the approaching holiday, and weeping. I was watching Atticus and Hope play outside in the leaves while I cooked dinner and my heart and soul were so full and filled with warmth and love. So I made myself go read a news story. I felt as if I needed to do some sort of penance for having my happy, healthy babies. I wanted to unplug the tree and cancel Christmas.
... but I didn't.
On Sunday I went out with Hope and we did some shopping and spent a fair amount of time talking. I brought up the shootings on the way home. She hadn't heard about them, but I knew there would be discussion at school. Hope was horrified and asked if they could look at his (Adam Lanza's) brain to see why he would do such a thing. She bemoaned the evil and cruelty of the world. I told her to remember that for every evil person in the world there are THOUSANDS of good people. Look at the helpers, the huggers, the criers, the people calling for change and action.
That's why I didn't unplug the Christmas tree.
There are many things I'd like to say about gun control, mental health access, and -- quite frankly -- how moms are scapegoats for everything. I have written page upon page in my head on all of these issues.
... but what's the point? I'll either be preaching to the choir or angering other people and there is already so much hate and tension and fear.
Instead I look at Hope and Atticus and I tell myself that all that matters is that I teach MY children. Arguing with adults on social media will not help things, teaching my children how to be humane is of importance.
Atticus and Hope -- there are terrible things that happen and we will not always know why bad things happen. The truly important thing is what we do with ourselves when something bad happens. We can be scared and angry and that's okay, but remember that everyone else is probably scared and angry too. Be a helper. Listen. Hug. Share. Give. Seek to be the peace that is lacking. There is a time yell and stamp our feet, but when we do that sometimes we forget about the sad people who need us to be there. Listen to me... we help each other, we cry, we hug, but we also remember that life is beautiful. We are alive. We have a purpose. You gobble up every second of this life. Remember the things you love, the smell of autumn leaves, the taste of a holiday cookie, our great big pile of hugs on the couch. Enjoy it, cherish it, and share it as much as possible.I've been weeping for those who are hurt and hurting, but I've also been living. Yesterday I dropped the kids off and ran errands (I wept in the car), I assembled cookie trays and addressed holiday notes (with breaks to weep), and I spent three hours wrapping gifts and thinking of all of those poor babies. The weird weight of wrapping toys in brightly colored paper while listening to "We wish you a Merry Christmas" and the running script in my head of all the names of the slain..... There were tears, but I also felt very much present. I am alive, alive, alive... I am doing something for my children and family, the look of the paper, the notes of music, the taste of coffee, the smell of the apple pork roast in the crock pot, the plashing rain outside.... Normally I think ahead (what's next what's next what's next???) and I was so very present in the moment, because I realized there may not be a next time.
I end this disjointed post with a dream I have had for the past 3 nights:
I am outside the library where I work except it looks different in the back outdoor area. I am sitting on a step and I realize that a bad man (he looked greatly like Bane from the last Batman movie) is behind me. And he is going to kill everyone. Beside me sits a very scared little boy. At first I think it is Atticus. The boy's head is bowed and he is shivering next to me. He is scared. I realize the boy is too old to be Atticus. He looks at me... and I know him. I know him from the news. He reminds me of Atticus. The sweet smile, big dark eyes, and the precious tilt of the chin. I won't link his picture here. I know which one he is. I pull him close to me and comfort him like I comfort my children. I sing a little. I stroke his cheek. I kiss the top of his head. I rock. And I tell him I love him. I love him and he is wonderful. And I ask him about all the things he knows and I point out interesting rocks and clouds. The wind blows a little and he smiles up sweetly and shyly and with a mischievous gleam in his eye (so much like Atticus!) and he opens his mouth to speak. I cannot hear what he is saying. His lips are moving and his eyes are bright and engaged, but I cannot hear him. I can hear heavy, booted steps moving behind me. I concentrate on that little boy's face and give him every ounce of attention. I lock eyes with him and smile. And I hold that gaze until everything goes black.
I've had this dream for three consecutive nights. I usually end up waking at 2 am drenched in sweat. I check on my children, I kiss my sleeping husband, and I cry.
I take from this dream that my job is to love and comfort my children. I will make mistakes, lose my patience, miss sleep, and be annoyingly human, but I will love my children with a fierce and active love. I will always pull them close. I will sing. I will stroke their cheeks. I will kiss top of their heads. I will rock them. I will tell them I love them. I love them and they are wonderful. I will ask them about all the things they know and I will point out interesting rocks and clouds. I will listen when they speak even when I cannot understand the words. I will concentrate on their little faces and give them every ounce of attention. I will look them in the eyes and smile.
All the other conversations are important, but they can wait. Right now it is about my children, my heart.