Friday, December 14, 2012

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Every day when I get home, Claire races over to me, arms up, yelling, "Mommy, need to hold you! Need to hold you!" Today, instead of correcting her pronouns as I usually do, all I could manage was a choked out, "Mommy needs to hold you too." And hold her I did, her soft cheek resting on my shoulder, little body pressed flush against me, tears running down my face.

There are no words for the tragedy that took place in Connecticut today. No way to understand it, to even comprehend it. With every headline I cried more- I couldn't even click on the actual words of the story, and by early afternoon I stopped my usual obsessive checking of news sites because the pictures were simultaneously ripping my heart out and making me feel like a voyeur and a complicit part of the fame being created for a monster who'd just murdered 20 children. We've had so many national tragedies, it seems like they've been become worse and more frequent, and yet this one felt particularly shattering.

I've written before about the privilege and blessing I feel in tucking my children into bed at night. Their privilege of a warm, soft beds in a warm, safe house. My privilege as their mother that I can make them feel so safe and warm and loved. And tonight, I thought about the simple privilege for me of being able to do the tucking- that it's Landon and Claire, the lights of my life, under those covers, when nearly two dozen parents in Connecticut will not get to do the same for their little ones. It's certainly no consolation to those parents, or even to me, that I felt such gratitude in that moment, but it was something- a thought neither ugly nor grief-filled to meditate on as I sang our goodnight songs and tried my hardest not to cry during "you are my sunshine."

I don't know how to close this one... I listened to Silent Night on my drive home from work today, and those familiar words seem appropriate and made tear up anew: "Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace." My sincerest thoughts and prayers to everyone in Newtown, Connecticut, our hearts break for you.


  1. I wrote a comment, deleted it because it sounded sort of priggish and know it all, and am writing it again because I want to talk to somebody smart about it.

    I'm grieving, too, in the shallow, distant way that we watchers-from-afar can do. My two year old (two weeks younger than Claire!) has been a barnacle on my side all day and night, by my choice. I cut myself off of news.

    I wanted to explore one part of your reaction, though - it was my initial one, too, and one I'v;e heard echoed everywhere. And that is that this shooter was a soulless monster/evil/etc. Not as a criticism, but as a general inquiry and a search for understanding, I am trying hard to think of him as a lost human being. He was a kindergartner once, right? His mother did (or didn't) tuck him in once upon a time. She obviously fed him and kept him alive long enough for him to be 20, and his brother to be 24. He shot her, he killed 20 kids - why would a human being do this? I am not trying to seek pity for him, but merely to engage with the very uncomfortable idea that these mass shootings tend to be perpetrated by fairly comfortable, some might say privileged, young men who grew up in ways similar to how I grew up, and to how I'm raising my own sons. Did he lack a soul? Was he a psychopath without pity? Or was he sorrowful? Did he regret this choice in his few seconds of life afterwards? Was he proud, laughing, weeping, emotionless? WHAT, HOW, WHY, what was in his brain that let him turn this hideous idea into reality?

    I feel like crawling into HIS brain for a bit - unimaginable - could maybe help me assure that if I ever run into someone contemplating what he's done, I could stop him somehow? Expose him to law enforcement and/or connect him with mental health services of some kind? But in doing so, I'm trying hard to remember that he didn't spring, fully formed, twenty years old and evil. He grew up and lived in one of the more wealthy and comfortable areas of America, for twenty years, and still made this hideous, incomprehensible choice. I'm grappling with how on earth that can be. How on earth.

    1. When I reread my post this morning, I'd already reconsidered (and since removed) the word soulless. But monster remains- maybe a monster with a mental illness, but a monster all the same, at least to me. And the point of my sentence wasn't actually a vilification of the perpetrator (though admittedly, I was vilifying him in my mind anyway), it was a condemnation on the fact that so much of the media coverage goes to him, just hours after such a horrible tragedy occurred. Maybe he was mentally disturbed, I hope so- I can't wrap my head around a fully sane person who understand what he was doing executing 20 children, but maybe part of his selection in how to kill himself was "well at least I'll go out famous if I do something really horrific." I have no idea, but I wanted a day, one day, where we could think of and pray for the victims and the families.

      I guess you're just already thinking bigger and broader than me in being able to think about him, his childhood, his mind. I couldn't, still can't. I just saw the news conference by the local police in Newtown confirming the dead. Profiles of the killer is important to understand why these things happen and how we can ever stop them from happening, but I just can't give a shit about his reasons yet. Right now I just wish there was a way to prevent people who commit acts like that from being so instantly famous.

  2. Apparently you weren't the only one who made the same connection -

  3. Well said. And I'll agree with the monster characterization. I wasn't quite so kind in my comments to Ryan about him last night.