I feel like a fraud, writing at times of tragedy. Who am I to say anything about sadness? How dare I, when my family is safe and sound, and someone else’s is not? What do I know of heartbreak, compared to a parent who has lost their child? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Except that there’s a piece of us that becomes communal, or somehow cosmically connected when we have kids of our own. We are brutally, sickeningly aware that it could be any one of us, at any time. We hear the news and feel as though we’ve been punched in the gut, like we could be physically ill from the horror of it. We contemplate, for even one second, that it could be us instead of them. That I could be the one to find out that the heart that lives and walks around outside of my body is gone. I have no earthly idea how anyone could continue to function from that point forward. I, for one, am pretty sure I would want to climb into a dark hole and beg for it all to end.
I’ve been crying off and on since Friday, despite keeping the TV almost completely dark since the news of the elementary school shooting broke. I check a few news websites, I take a peek at Twitter from time to time. But that’s plenty. Plenty to make my heart and stomach hurt. I couldn’t log on and write some silly story about my kids and make it seem like nothing happened.
I haven’t told my kids, for the record, and I don’t plan to. While I appreciate the value of them hearing about something from me instead of someone else, I’m hedging my bets on them not finding out at all. They’re among the oldest kids in their tiny school, so I’m hoping it won’t filter down to them as it might if there were bigger kids around. I’m keeping NPR off in the car, keeping the TV on Disney if it’s on at all. I’m not letting them see me cry. The general consensus I’ve seen from the various “experts” is that kids under 7 should be sheltered from this if at all possible, and that’s what we’re doing.
I don’t have anything profound to say. No big insights to share, no unique perspective to add to the conversation. I’m just one mom out of so many, whose heart is ripped to shreds by how lucky I am to be able to tuck my kids into bed tonight.