With all the turmoil in my life at the moment, yesterday's events...words cannot describe my gamut of emotions. I know what the sudden, unexpected death of a child does to people. Though it happened 22 years ago, I still remember my mother's call about a little boy she thought of as a grandson. She called and said, "I'm just calling to tell you ----- drowned. I have to go." It wasn't until later I realized she'd been in shock. She was numb. One moment, he was playing with his older brother and his kitten...the next he was gone. My mom had been waiting for the boys and their mother to return home. I thought about calling around the time, then I changed my mind. I told myself she'd tell me she'd call me back because she'd be busy. It is a decision I've regretted. I still believe if I'd have called she'd have said, "the boys are outside. We have to check them."
I have always believed it takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to look after one another. Knowing I'd never hear him call me "Wessie" again, I felt I hadn't done my part in that mantra. I was heartbroken. His family and my mother were inconsolable.
Yesterday, as I watched the coverage, listened to the press conferences, cried with the president, I looked at my 7 and 9 year old girls, whom I homeschool. Months ago, a young man murdered his mother, father, and brother but couldn't act upon going on a shooting rampage at a nearby high school. At the beginning of this school year, another young man was arrested after it was discovered he had intentions of going to an elementary school and shooting it up. But for a few miles, if they were in a brick and mortar school, my girls would've been there.
Last night, as my mind raced and tears leaked from my eyes, I sent up prayers for the souls lost in Newtown, CT. I reiterated questions from over two decades ago. Instead of "why him" and "why now", I asked "why them" and "why now". Now, as then, I couldn't find answers.
After a while, I dragged my girls away from the BrainPop movies and told them we'd listen to music. And we did. We ate popcorn and we danced to Waka Waka. I picked up my 7 year old and swung her around as I once did my 9 and 16 year olds when they were small. I answered the girls' questions about what had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary and promised them they were safe. We were safe. I sent a message to Zoey and told her how much I loved and missed her and wished she could be with me so I could hug her too.
And I realized that this hour, this minute, this SECOND is important. The last second is gone and the next may not come. How I spend that time and what I do with it is just as important. Being the best mother, daughter, granddaughter, and friend I can be is important.
Later, as I lay stuffed between the two of them with our toy poodle at the foot of the bed and one of our cats laying near my head, I know I am blessed. Two of the most important people in my life were right next to me. Another was downstairs in her room and the other is 4500 miles away.
I think of all the gifts that will remain unopened because of yesterday and my heart hurts. I am grateful my girls are here to badger me about presents they want and I can't afford. I imagine little fingers sticky with candy and am humbled my girls are here to demand pizza. I hear their laughter and am overwhelmed at the sound.
I am filled with both empathy and sympathy and will continue to keep my prayers going up and I will continue to remember what's most important.