Whole Newtown World

19 Dec

Beautiful, beloved children die every day, and they die by gun violence every day, and although this fact should bring me to my knees, it doesn’t. I find a way to live with that knowledge, to carry it around with me. But the senseless horror of the school massacre in Newtown, CT on Dec. 14 is proving so difficult for me to get a grasp on, mentally and emotionally, that I feel guilty. Doesn’t every tragedy deserve this kind of reverent grief from me?

Oh, those little children. Those valiant adults.

December 14 was the day before my child’s sixth birthday, and so many six-year-olds died that day without a chance to celebrate seven. The event happened in a school similar in size and population to my kids’ sweet neighborhood school, the same one I attended myself. I spent the morning at that school on Dec. 14 handing out birthday cupcakes. The parallels haunt me.

Tonight I went to the first post-tragedy PTO meeting. The principal opened by hastening to reassure the gathered parents with information about safety drills, measures being taken to monitor the dialogue and mood at school, precautions to prevent such a tragedy happening to us. But as I listened to her speak, this wonderful educator whom I know without a doubt would protect my children with her life, this mother of two small children of her own, all I could think about was the unlocked front door of our school, and the way it opens on a hallway lined with plate glass, where all the administrative offices are. When she asked for questions, I raised my hand and said, “What about staff safety measures?” She answered gracefully, but as she talked it seemed to me that the unspoken truth is the staff knows they are the first line of physical defense, and see it as part of the job. Their unaffected bravery is absolutely heartwrenching.

After the meeting we gathered in the school auditorium for the winter chorus concert by the third and fourth graders. It was my third grader’s first chance to perform in the auditorium, and her excitement has been at a high pitch. She needed a white button-down shirt for the occasion, and we ended up just borrowing one from her younger brother–shrunken menswear being very much on trend, after all. As she walked out on to the back riser (she’s tall, just like I am–I always got stuck in the back, too), her knobbly wrists jutting out of the shirt sleeves, and her big feet clomping in new black shoes, her smile blazed as she caught sight of me and her father and little brother. Her eyes were huge and bright in her small, dear face. Our kids don’t know what happened, at least not yet. My daughter’s innocent joy in this unfussy occasion, her ability to be absolutely transported by the opportunity to perform for her parents and friends, her pure pleasure in the moment, were balm for my soul.

I’m sort of cumulatively tired of Christmas music. Every year it grates on me more, the manufactured emotion and stock sound effects and cheesy lyrics. But winter carols sung in the perfectly imperfect warble of elementary school children are another thing altogether. As I sat holding my precious six year old in my lap, watching his sister try to smile and sing at the same time, my nose buried in his fragrant hair, waves of gently dissonant sound washing over us, I felt so sad and happy and fearful and fortunate. There was so much love in the room, and I know there is so much love in the world. I wish the power of the love we have for our children was enough to keep them all safe, always.

10 Responses to “Whole Newtown World”

  1. Casey December 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Miller, thank you for writing this – it’s beautifully written and exactly how I feel. Love you

    • amomynous2 December 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thank you for reading, and for your kind, supportive comment. Posting on this subject made me really nervous, but the writing of this was cathartic. Love you. XOX

      • jennypenny007 December 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

        I remember after 9/11 how much I wanted all the writers, reports, pundits, politicians, radio personalities — just everyone — to stop talking, stop trying to capture the horror in words, because there were no words to describe and no words to comfort. I’ve felt this same way ever since I turned on the radio last Friday and heard the news unfolding in Sandy Hook. I myself haven’t been able to find words as a writer, none that I feel comfortable sharing with the world. I’m just so sad that I feel like crawling into bed with my little ones and falling asleep with them so I can be with them and not have to think about this horror all the time and how much it scares me and saddens me. But when I read a blog like this one, I am thankful some people can and have written about it, because even though it doesn’t take away any grief, it helps me continue to hold a less frantic and more solemn vigil in my heart for those souls who passed on Friday. So much grief. I understand why you chose to write about it, and just wanted to say your words echo my own feelings. Thank you.

      • amomynous2 December 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

        Wow. Thank YOU for this comment. I felt queasy posting this because I wasn’t sure I had anything to say on this subject that someone would want to read, and you just made me feel so much better. I will also tell you that when you’re ready, and even if you never put what you write out there anywhere, just the writing of this little piece helped me to grieve–you might find it offers you some relief as well. XOX and thanks again, so much.

  2. Marisa December 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I wish the same thing – that our love could protect all of the children in the world. I am always thankful for the safety and security that we enjoy – knowing that so many people never feel it or never will again. Precious babes all of them.

    • amomynous2 December 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

      Yes, so much. Thanks for reading, honey. XOX

  3. alimonkee December 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Way to make me lose it at work. Thanks a lot. Also, I adore you.

    • amomynous2 December 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      Ha! My pleasure, darling. I adore YOU!

  4. RayRayMan December 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    I really liked sitting back, reading and listening to the music in your story… the crescendoing concern mixed with the rock star kid’s chorus — the rhythm and the waves, and the percussion off in the distance. You know, I’ll never have a mom’s point of view — literally (and i only mean that literally) — and it was so nice to share yours — i mean, so nice of you to share.

    • amomynous2 December 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Thanks for reading, RayRay. Your particular way of expressing thoughts big and small, funny and profound, always brings a smile to my face. Happy last day of 2012! Onward, friend! XOX

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