It started with a text.
Husband: Good god…give Carter an extra hug for me…wish it was 3:30… (we are meeting with Cody’s teacher and OT at the school today at 3:30.)
I did not understand and said so. I had been in the kitchen with Carter making sweet and sour sausage meatballs for our Christmas party tomorrow and had not been near the computer most of the morning. He then proceeded in a sentence or two to tell me about the shootings in Connecticut and how most of the dead were children. An immediate sense of choking panic consumed me as I resisted the urge to grab Carter and my purse and rush out the door to go pick up Cody from school. We do not live in Connecticut , there is no rationale behind this knee jerk reaction I felt – just motherly instinct to protect.
While Husband and I exchanged text messages, Carter excused himself to use the bathroom giving me a chance to look it up on line. I scanned the story on CNN. Scared faces of little children looked back at me from my screen. Children who should be safely in their classrooms writing, reading, doing math problems or working on some glittery holiday arts and crafts project. Anything but this.
Carter hollered out for me. The bathroom was too stinky, he wanted the fan on. I turned the fan on and went back to the computer. A few more pictures, another sentence or two read and then Carter called out for me again. The light was too bright, he asked me very politely to dim it. I did. I went back to the computer for the third time and decided I did not want to read anymore. I could not.
After Carter was done with his business we went back into the kitchen where the meatballs were simmering. Carter climbed up on his chair to help me stir them. Then he looked at the red kettle on the back of the stove, looked at me, and then looked back at the kettle. He asked if we could have some hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. I thought of the three batches of peanut brittle and the two batches of fudge I still needed to make as well as the grocery trip we needed to fit in before our meeting at the school. Then I looked at Carter and smiled.
I turned down the meatballs, filled the kettle and took out the marshmallows. We took a hot chocolate break and I tried very hard not to think of those parents who would never again sit in their kitchen enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with their kids. I tried not to think of the already wrapped presents with the names of the children who died today printed neatly on fancy name tags, the empty stocking, the empty hearts. I tried not to think of the brothers and sisters, the moms and dads, the grandparents, the friends, the neighbors, the loved ones who are going through this most awful day. I tried to drink my hot chocolate without thinking of these things.
I could not. Perhaps the writing of this will lift some of the shock and sadness I feel about this. Or maybe it won’t. Either way it needed to be written.