It's been too long since I've written, and now that I sit down to do it, I find myself walking a very shaky line. On the one side is a lot of doubt. On the other side is I'm not sure what.
What to say? What to do? What matters now?
I don't know one soul personally in the whole state of Connecticut, let alone in Newtown, and yet, I feel like someone I love has died. I find myself heartbroken and shaking my head (and simultaneously thanking my lucky stars) every time I hold Eight and Ten - which I've done A LOT lately. Every time I walk by their bedroom, or see the handmade artwork on the wall in the kitchen that says "Sisterz 4 Ever!", or find a little shoe in the hallway. I breathe them in at night and realize that if I couldn't do that anymore, I wouldn't be able to breathe in at all, ever.
It's too huge, too terrifying, to lose a child to unexpected violence. To lose a child at all. My Mom did it when her baby was 45. My Aunt did it when her baby was 19. And all the moms and dads and families in Newtown who have been forever changed by this, experienced their loss when their babies were 6 or 7.
Every time I see the children's faces or hear their names, my mind races instantly to all the dashed hopes and dreams. I try to stay away from how those classrooms must have looked afterwards, and think backwards instead. I think of how those parents thought of baby names during the pregnancy, and gave the one they felt was perfect to that new little life. The name that was called down the hallway countless times already. The name that would never need to be called again to hurry to soccer, or to come finish breakfast, or to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The tiny socks that have been put on perfect feet. All the blankets that have been tucked in to ensure a cozy night of sleep. The soft pajamas that were just changed out of a couple hours before. The small hands that have been held, the cheeks that have been kissed, the hair brushed, the tears dried. And I cry again for those parents who have an empty space in their lives and homes now, if not in their hearts.
So on that dark side, I see loss, devastation, and all that matters having been shattered. I myself have been doubled over, but how do you get back up when you've been slammed to the floor? What does this blog matter? Who cares what I, or anyone else writes? What does it matter if there's food in the house, or a dog who still wants his walk, or a job to do, when the most important job of all has been ripped away from so many? How do you stand, when your world has been so violently tipped over that nothing is where or how it should be? And never will be again. Because there is a new normal now for them. The house is upside down and everything has fallen out of the closets and shelves, and there is a wicked mess to try to find the energy to clean up. And things won't fit where they used to, and I don't imagine much will feel or look right anymore. And all the artwork from preschool, and all the hand-me-downs saved, and all the holiday gifts wrapped especially for them are strewn about the hallways of the house and the mind and where does any of it belong now?
But. That's in Newtown. And I have to find what's on the other side of that shaky line I walk here in California.
I know that - and I thank God that - as much as I feel for these families, that isn't my life. That didn't happen to me or my babies. And it's a lot easier for me to place meaning onto the mundane as it ever will be again for the families who are affected. So off I go to the store, or to walk the dog, or to water the Christmas tree.
And hopefully children in my area will benefit from the sadness I do feel, because it is pushing me to drop more goodies in the Toys for Tots bin at our own elementary school. It's driving me to adopt a family for Christmas at church and stuff stockings for charity. Because if I am lucky enough to care for and love my own children for another day, another year, my whole lifetime (God willing), then I want to share that love and luck with someone else's child. A child who is alive and who deserves to thrive and rejoice this time of year and all year round.
And so, in the name of Allison, Ana, Avielle, Benjamin, Caroline, Catherine, Charlotte, Chase, Daniel, Dylan, Emilie, Grace, Jack, James, Jesse, Jessica, Josephine, Madeline, Noah, and Olivia, I will. I will love my kids, and smile at the kids around me, and pray for all those sent to heaven too soon. I will pray too, for more peace on earth, and I will hope for healing and I will protect the innocence of children, because it's gone too quickly.
It's going to be a lot of love given and a lot of prayers sent up, and those in heaven will rejoice, and those on earth will heal.
Maybe if I say it and write it and breathe in (and outhale) a lot it will be true.
I hope. God how I hope.
I think I just found what's on the other side of that shaky line. It's hope. I'm going to try to focus on that and keep my balance at the same time.
Here's to a holiday season filled with love and a new year filled with, you guessed it, hope.