My biggest worries on Friday December 14th were to keep my son awake all day (no naps allowed for little boys who stay up till 11 pm!) - and then to keep him asleep at night. Oh, and also whether I should pack one suitcase or two for Florida.
12/14/2012 - 2 days after "12/12/12" - the world did come to an end for many families.
How do we process a tragedy like this? How do we carry on when something as horrible as this happens? Until 1 pm that afternoon I was contentedly going about my day, trying to pack, feed the kids, and to keep our excitement about our travels and Christmas at an enjoyable rather then a frenetic level.
I talked to my mom for almost an hour and a half earlier that morning. (What did we talk about?? A friend's mother who passed away, unschooling, birth, money, taking risks... what didn't we talk about?) It's another luxury in my life - that I am fortunate enough to have the time and desire to talk with my mom almost every morning - oh yeah, and I'm lucky to have my mom still here with me.
I realized later that night that I was talking to my mom when the shooting occurred.
For me, 12/14/2012 will forever be divided into before knowing and after - between ignorance and awareness. The horror and grief that swept through me as I read the articles. The tears that sprang to my eyes and that I quickly wiped away, before my mature, sensitive 6 year old could see them (mature, but not mature enough for this kind of news). I tried calling my mom back but they weren't home. So I talked for a few minutes to a friend about the senselessness of it.
Then I herded us outside. It was a beautiful day - warm for this time of year, sunny, and blue skies. It was like a huge spiritual oxymoron - the discrepency between my internal and external environment. We ran and played. Gerry cried, he was so tired (and as it turned out, starting to fight off an illness). Marisol played with neighborhood friends. I managed to smile and have fun but the thought of the children and families was always present in the back of my mind.
There is no making sense of what happened. I liked these words that I read today on The Libertarian Homeschooler's Facebook page:
A thought in the midst of the shock.
Some people have such a way with words. And they offer us hope. Because if we don't have hope in times like these, then what do we have? If we allow the despair to overwhelm our souls then what will tomorrow bring?
We all have different ways of processing things and dealing with tragedy and that is ok. Some need a break from Facebook, others want to devour every status update and poignant picture. Some people need time alone while others seek solace in the company of loved ones. Me, I *need* to talk about it. And now write. I like to read different people's thoughts too - people I respect, people who are trying to make the world a better place. And of course tears are cleansing. But considering I'm the same person who was proud if I made it through a week at school without crying in 6th grade, there have been surprisingly few tears. Today, I felt strangely normal, if a little subdued. I could feel guilty about it, but I don't. We cannot "Be the Change" if we are depressed ourselves.
The biggest surge of crying came on unexpectedly as I texted my sister - "I love you". Marisol was not in the room and my guard was down. I know that I am largely holding it together because of and for my kids. And the irony of that strikes me hard and cold - what about the people who have lost their 6 year old - their reason for hope, for carrying on... for keeping it together?
We need to be the light for them for as long as they need it. And I know that I personally cannot be the light if I'm too focused on my desire to know. To know details of what happened and of course any information that may help explain *why*? Because there will never be a satisfactory answer for that question. So we must move on and each do our bit to help heal and better the world.
In our house we get all of our news from the internet - no televised news here. This helps so much - to filter and minimize the amount of sensationalized information, and more importantly, the images that are allowed into our consciouness. Television is powerful and our minds and imaginations are too. But we have a choice in how we use them.
Still, I have not totally been able to resist seeking information. And when I do, my body realizes the full meaning of "heartsick".
Mostly, I've been carrying on by doing what I do every day. Being the best mom I can be. Connecting with my loved ones. Being even more grateful. By appreciating the mundane.
Night time is harder. The kids are asleep and we are left with our thoughts. Last night I could not help but wonder how many people across the country - no, across the world - were thinking about the shooting and the victims and the terror that must have filled them in their last moments. Why does it take something so tragic to unite us?
Yet there are already divisions too. Even I have had thoughts fleet through my mind, like - "Really? They're posting about *that*??" So I remind myself that everyone deals with these things in different ways. Not only that, but I can never presume to know what is going on *inside* of another person.
There are many opinions about why these things keep happening and what we need to do to stop them from happening. Discussions are heated. Some people think it's disrespectful to the grieving to even bring up issues like gun-control or mental health care. I tend to resonate most strongly with people who are focusing on deeper, wider, and more spiritual answers - of spreading Peace right here and now whereever we happen to be.
All of these ideas have the potential to ignite impassioned debate. The most important thing we can all do is to be kind to each other and remember that we all want the same thing - we want these things to stop, we want to be safe, we want to be loved. So we must wrap our passion in love even when our convictions burn bright.
We are in an interesting space in the hours and days following a tragedy of this magnitude. On one hand what truly matters is brought into sharp focus. This
blog, my Christmas craft, the state of my house... none of it really matters.
But at the same time it all *does* matter. Our daily lives, the choices we make
every moment, the words we choose when speaking to others. For me it has only strengthened the truth that there really are No Guarantees and No "Re-dos" - there is only the Present Moment. So I'm using this as an opportunity to recommit myself to make the here and now the best that I can. I hope you will all join me.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.