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.
I am at a loss as well…. Just can’t wrap my mind round it…
It is so awful, I think a lot of people are struggling with it. I know I still am.
Probably will for ever. I don’t think this will ever find resolution.
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It’s horrible and senseless. I feel like a writer with no words. I can’t imagine being one of those parents standing outside of the school and waiting for your child and then being told your child was gone. And then going home to the house all decorated for Christmas. Trying to put on a brave face on for the other children you have at home and making a holiday for them. What the hell is wrong with this world?
My mind keeps going to those little things these families will have to face – the so recently slept in little beds, perhaps left unmade, the first breakfast without those little faces sitting across the table from them, the little boots waiting by the front door, the toothbrushes in the bathroom – I can go on and on and it brings tears to my eyes. I am shaking my head with a heavy heart.
Thank you, Shoes, for putting our collective grief into words. My children are 20 and 23 and I too immediately wanted to hug or talk to them. What a sorrowful day.
You are welcome, I don’t usually write about such things, I am not much of a news reader, but I could not stop thinking about it. I was alarmed by the intensity of my emotions and how hard it was for me to not go rushing to the school and take Cody away. A most sorrowful day indeed.
I don’t have any children yet, but I live in CT, about 40 minutes away from Newtown, and I’m so shocked by this. Even without having children of my own (but planning to in the near future), I am filled with so much grief for all those families.
It is shocking and I think it strikes a multitude of strong emotions of people, parents or not, across the world. Harm done to anyone, but especially children, is such an awful, awful thing.
Thank you for your comment.
My mom is a teacher nowhere near CT and she said parents were picking their kids up early all morning. I think we all just need to hold them a little closer when things like this happens. Thank you for sharing this, Shoes.
I almost went to get Cody but I figured it would freak him out a little (he is all about routine and would want to know why I was there.) We had a meeting at the school once classes let out and when I drove up to the school there was a police car there, just to let their presence be known on such a day, and it caused my heart to lurch.
I can tell you we sure gave the boys lots of extra hugs last night.
Hey Shoes: I think being a parent makes it harder..it is so difficult to comprehend…I was compelled to write about it too…It is all so senseless….thanks for sharing…Carter has a wonderful Mom.
I think you are right, my emotions about child related tragedies (or heck even reading Horton Hears a Who this morning with Carter) cause me to lose it much more so than before I had kids. I look forward to reading your words on this. Today I am co-hosting a Christmas party and have a million and one things to do (I should not even be here commenting) so I will save your post for tomorrow morning over my cup of coffee.
HUGS to you Shoes…I hope you have a good party!
My grown daughter, the mother of a toddler, needed to call and talk to her Mommy…Neither grandchild is old enough for Kindergarten, and yet…Well, you know.
This is the first time an unfolding event has reduced me to tears. Not on 9/11, not when the Oklahoma City bombing happened; though on both occasions, the breakdown came later.
This was worse, by far, for me. Something just broke, inside…
I’m glad you wrote this. I can’t, though I considered it (for most of the night, when sleep wouldn’t come). Hug your babies tight.
I think it is a beautiful thing that your daughter wanted to call to hear your voice on such a day. It is a moving event (I hate calling it an event, it is so much more than that but I can’t seem to find the right word to describe it that doesn’t sound cliche). I have become much more weepy over things since having kids but on the other hand I have found more strength then I though possible residing in me when it comes to my boys too.
This is far worse for me as well and the words stall in my throat, in my fingers, and I struggle to get them out in the right way. I don’t usually write about such things – they are too hard and too real, too far away and way to damn close.
Thankyou for the wonderful post – you sure put this into words so well. I couldn’t watch it on the news, ether, it was just too heartwrenching. Still brings me too tears!
Thank you. I have seen very little about it; I have heard enough and don’t need the details of it lodged in my mind. It is awful enough to know that something like this even happens.
Very understandable. Enjoy those little moments. We all have to.
I keep coming back to the importance of those little moments…
I hear. We have to do what we can to cope.
It’s terrible, terrible news.
Yes it is. I suppose a lot could be said about it but it all boils down to terrible, awful, and sad.
We are still wrestling with how to talk with our kids about this. Do we bring it up? Do we let them watch some of the news? The whole situation is just so horrifying and sad. My youngest saw me crying while reading my iPad and asked if someone had died. I replied, “yes,” he asked if it was someone in our family. I told him “no”, but that I was still sad. He hugged me. That is as far as we have gotten with our kids. So many prayers being said for all those that lost loved ones on Friday.
It is a tough call (I read your post about this and I think you handled it very well). We have not talked about it to Cody and Carter. I guess there is a chance they could hear about it at school and if they do we will discuss it with them and answer any questions. I think that if we bring it up to them it will add weight to an already heavy topic. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do but they just seem way to young to learn about such things…
So sad. So impossible to believe, let alone understand. We hug our children even tighter on days like this. xx
It is impossible and yet there it is. I can not even imagine the pain, how awful it must hurt to be one of the people so closely affected by this.
There aren’t the words to describe any of this. I am far away from the US and my girl is 15. I wanted to keep her at home and not let her go to school. Irrational I know.
You are right, the words no matter which ones or in what order, they can not conjure up the vastness or complexity of the situation. I felt it irrational at the time, wanting to go and collect Cody from school on this day, but perhaps it is not so. It is not irrational to want to protect our children and even just the hearing of this awful action called into play a primal instinct to reach out and keep safe the ones we love.
Yes, I think our instincts take over. There is nothing stronger than our protection instincts.
I cry every time I look at my kids, every time I’m in the car alone driving home to them, every time I hear a Christmas carol. I’m a mess. I can’t even write about it. I’ve been trying to distract my mind from it. I like your post.
Yes, you are right. It did need to be written. I am still reeling from the impact I felt when I heard the news. Just like you said, it’s a gut reaction to protect our young, all young. I wrote about the tragedy as well, and it did help me. A lot. I hope your post has brought you some comfort, and I was so thrilled to read that you stopped all the chores and got that hot chocolate for your little guy! That was 100% the right decision, but I know how when the to-do list piles up it’s not easy to stop it all and turn down the sauce, as you did. Many happy Christmas wishes to you and your family, and all the best for the new yearl