I picked my kids up from school on Friday, because I just needed to be with them, to hug them and be grateful for them. I felt selfish Friday night as we watched A Christmas Carol, fire burning, Christmas tree lit, all snuggled together on the couch. My son's laugh was contagious. I smiled every time I heard it. It's genuine and innocent, the laugh of a kid that didn't have to worry about whatever was being reported on the news that night. My daughter, who is younger, snuggled up next to me in her fuzzy felt pajamas and purple robe that somehow makes her hugs even warmer. She is generous with her affection, doling out hugs and kisses and "I love yous" as if she has an infinite supply. The dog, curled up on my son’s lap, snored softly.
We didn't watch the news, and I didn't read the articles about the shooting, shielding myself from the heartbreaking details. I still don't know exactly what happened, and I have a hard time even saying the name of the school or the town. I have seen pictures and names of the children online, and I listened to President Obama read the children's names and with each one read, my heart broke a little more.
It was raining this morning when I dropped my daughter off at middle school. After she quickly glanced around to make sure no one was looking, she let me give her a kiss on the cheek, and when she opened the trunk and lifted her backpack that seems to get heavier with each passing day, she waved at me through the back window. She walked away as I sat in my car and watched her through my mirror, waiting there and looking even after she turned the corner. The older she gets, the harder it is to let her go. I can feel her pulling away as I try to hug her tight, and I am starting to feel the distance as I try to navigate the twists and turns of being a father to a young woman.
I haven't been able to feel better. I usually turn to running in times like these, in the way that others turn to prayer, as a path to comfort and to make the pain less, but I don't think we should feel comfort after what has happened. Maybe change, whether a change in gun laws, better relationships with our friends, with our neighbors, with our kids, or improved access to mental healthcare, will not come from a place of comfort. I didn't feel better after my run, and I didn't feel better after I prayed for comfort for the families of the victims, and I didn't feel better when I prayed for the safety of my children. I hope we don't forget the names and pictures of the children of Newtown. The change will come from those who can't move on, the change will come from the unhealed, because when something like this happens, maybe we aren't supposed to feel better.
The kids walking into the middle school this morning were wearing yellow and blue, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary. My daughter wore bright blue pants and a bright yellow shirt (an old race shirt of my wife's...I think the brighter and yellower they are, the less the race directors have to pay for them). Watching her walk away on this sad, grey day, and seeing her brightness, her smile as she waved goodbye in our morning ritual, gave me just a little hope in what feels like a hopeless time.
Thanks for reading.