After the events of last Friday, I couldn't find the words to describe how I feel. How I view the world has changed, my heart has been speed bagged by the tragedy in Connecticut. And I'm just a mom in Ohio...I can't imagine how those immediately affected by this are able to cope, even able to breathe. I'm struggling to be the person that I was before I knew that this evil existed. I'm struggling to feel anything but paralyzing fear, and I'm struggling to know how to live. I mean seriously, what are we supposed to do?
It's no secret that I have an overwhelming fear of loss. Since my dad's death, I struggle with anxiety. To hide the heartbreak I pour all of my energy into those around me, partly because I learned firsthand that it can all change very quickly, and partly because it diverted my attention from my sadness. Onward and Upward. And it's worked for me. At least, until now.
Now I'm a parent...and I have so much more to lose. Without my kids, I'm not sure I could open my eyes...I'm not sure my lungs could physically inflate. I don't think that my soul could emerge from the darkness. I can't even imagine the amount of despair that those parents must feel. I can't imagine how they can go on with their lives. I can't even try to put myself into that 'what if' scenario...I don't have the strength to even go there.
And yet, oddly enough, in some ways, that's all I've done since this shooting has happened. Everywhere I go, I'm constantly worried, looking at people around me, looking for the exits, and visualizing what I would do if something went awry. I'm literally squeezing my boys, kissing their faces to the point of chapped cheeks (theirs) and chapped lips (mine). I'm double checking plans in my mind, trying to avoid crowded locations, which let's face it, around the holidays leaves my house as the only 'safe" option. All of this to avoid the bigger issue. The lack of control that I actually have.
It's so easy to exclaim constantly how great God is when things are good. It's also so easy to question God when things aren't. It's human nature. We look for the fix, the why, the how...because to us (OK well me) knowledge is power. The more we know, the less likely it it is to happen again. The better we feel. At least until Friday. Friday changed everything. I don't know the details of why, nor do I want to, but I do know that it has made my trust in God stronger, not because I believe that he let this happen, but because it opened my eyes to the unimaginable evil in the world. More evil than any Hollywood producer could have created. The blackest of all souls walked on our planet and did this to poor defenseless children, and no one, not even the heroic actions of the teachers and administrators could stop it.
This evil exists and we are just supposed to go on with our lives and go about life all jolly as though it had never happened? We are just supposed to go to the movies or to the mall with the same naivety as before? We are just supposed to send our kids to school with a smile, knowing that something like this could happen again?
It all just makes me want to scream. And cry. And vomit. But even through my tear stained, vomity screams, I know the answer. The answer is Yes.
Yes we are supposed to go on. Yes we are supposed to live life to the fullest. Yes we are supposed to be strong, even though all we want to do is hide in a tree house in the hills and never encounter a living soul. Because our kids deserve better, our kids deserve a life. A life without fear. A life worth living. Just because my heart is broken, does not mean that they need to lose their naivety. Too many children were stripped of their childhood that day, and regardless of my fears, I don't want my children to live in fear. I don't even want them to know fear, not yet... that's my job. When we go to the grocery, I let Theo help me carry our groceries in the house. Before I do this, I scout out the lightest, easiest bag for him to lift. I would never dream of making him carry the bottled water, or even the canned foods because for his little body it would be way too heavy. But that's what you do as a parent...you carry the heavy stuff so the kids don't have to. I don't want my boys to grow up with a heavy heart just because the world sucks. I want my boys to learn and grow and to be able to be a kid, with rainbows and smilyfaces, unfazed and unworried. Because that's what kids are supposed to do.
This tragedy has taught me that parenting is more than meets the eye. Not only to be a parent, do you have to be nurturing and kind, loving and gentle, but you must also have the ability to exude strength and put on a poker face (a damn good one at that) , when all you want to do is ugly cry your makeup off and curl into a ball. When all I wanted to do was to hold my boys until their 18th birthday, I knew that it wasn't fair to them. I knew that they didn't understand all of the sadness, and they shouldn't have to at least until they are much, much older. I knew that I needed to brave my own fears with a smile (even if inside imy anxiety level is at a 100), and continue with our plans, because that's what they deserve...a life. A childhood.
So as I pray and hope for a better tomorrow for all of the families and victims in Connecticut, I will try to do my part in keeping my boys naive to the darkness in the world by mastering my Poker face. God made Children to see the world with happiness and love, with such wonder and innocence... it's my job to keep it that way. Even though my heart is shattered for those at Sandy Hook, I'll be damned if I let that darkness anywhere near my boys.
That's why God created bedtimes. And pillows and husbands to cry into.