At the moment I'm sitting in a peaceful living room with lights on the Christmas tree. The silence is interrupted every few moments by the infectious laughter of my seven year old son who is busy reading Captain Underpants to himself in his room. Most likely, before I'm done writing this post, he'll come out and crawl into my lap. Because he'll say, "I just wanted a little more time with you."
I just wanted a little more time with you - what everyone thinks when a loved one is gone.
I just wanted a little more time with you.
I wrote most of this post today, at school, on my lunch break after watching several memorial interviews with parents who had their children stolen from them in such a heartbreaking, and violent manner.
I connect, as I think every parent in this country does, with their sorrow as parents. Always, always our first focus as parents is the safety of our children - with their happiness right behind. I feel, as I'm sure many of you do, inadequate. I want to be able to do something. I want to be able to make a difference. I want, more than anything, to have the story turn out differently.
I also connect with this tragedy as a teacher. For a long, long time after Columbine I kept my classroom door locked at all times. I always knew where my keys were and every year I wanted to stay home on April 20th. I haven't felt like that for years. Today, I locked my classroom door again. Today, I didn't want to be in school.
I believe that our school is as safe as it can be. I believe that the people I work with would have protected the children in their charge at all costs like the teachers at Sandy Hook. I believe the same is true about the teachers at my children's school. I believe the same is true about all the schools and all the teachers in this country. We do what we do, first and foremost, because we love our children.
This afternoon my students and I discussed the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Do you remember those? At the bottom of the page, you got to make a choice. How you chose determined the outcome of the story.
But we can't, no matter how fervently we wish we could, change this story. But, maybe, just maybe, we can start to change the conversation in this country.
Gandhi said that we should be the change we wish to see in the world. I'm not sure how my small voice can make a difference, but as a parent, and as a teacher, I must try. Make your voice heard. Write letters. Sign petitions. Remember.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm having incredible difficulty working today. I have many tasks to accomplish, and yet my non-teaching time, time without students, has been primarily filled with reading about the victims of Friday's terrible, terrible tragedy.
I want to be able to do something, anything to ease the pain of the parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends who have lost such precious angels.
I'm also clock watching today. The end of the day will not come fast enough today. I don't think I'll feel even remotely settled until my own babies are in my sight, and my students are safely home.
I'm thankful, so thankful for the blessings I'm able to hold in my arms, and yet so full of sorrow for those poor, poor people in Newtown.
Do you ever feel guilty for the blessings that abound in your life? Today, is one of those days.
There are a few actions I can take. I'm going to remember. Even though it makes me incredibly sad, I'm going to keep watching the parent interviews, and keep looking at the pictures of their much beloved children. I can't comfort those families, but I can honor the ones they've lost by paying tribute to their memories.
I'm going to pray.
I'm going to find a way to make my voice heard so that the voice of parents is louder than the voice of the gun lobby.
We need to find a way to make our country a safer place. We need to find a way to make our country a place where people with mental illness can afford to be treated. We need to find a way to make sure no one else has to suffer the way Newtown is suffering.
Many comforting and wise words were written today. One of the best I read came from Jane at Thy Hand.
"So, if possible, let us embrace grief and sorrow in one hand and hope and light in the other."