Monday, December 17, 2012

Empty and full


There’s no QWA this week. I just didn’t feel comfortable writing a post about how wonderful, cute and sweet my son is after so many parents recently lost their children.

Here in California, I couldn’t be physically farther away from the tragedy in Connecticut, but as a mother, it feels so close. Our love for our children unites all parents, and we all felt the impact of last Friday’s events.

That could’ve happened anywhere. What if that was my child’s classroom…?

Per usual, I heard the news via Facebook, my sole periscope peering up from the rock under which I live most of the time. Then the story was everywhere I turned. From stunned, to incredulous, to gut-wrenched, my emotional response was reminiscent of the morning of September 11, 2001.

No. This can’t be real. No. They’re just babies…

In the twenty-one months since Quinn was born, I’ve had to shield him from my tears on numerous occasions, never wanting to upset him by seeing me cry. I haven’t always been successful, but I managed to hold it together on Friday.

After Hubs returned home on Thursday night from an eleven-day business trip, part of which was overseas, he decided to come home from work early on Friday. Quinn was still napping when Hubs tiptoed in. He had been with customers all day and hadn’t heard what happened, and he could tell immediately that something was wrong. It’s rare that I learn news before Hubs does, and the tears I’d been holding back finally fell as I shared the story. Speaking the words out loud added reality to the events.

Children are dead…

Hubs held me in his arms and whispered, “Quinn is safe. He’s asleep in his bed. He is safe.”

But is he really? How safe is any child anymore? After this?

Morbid thoughts invade my brain, and I think about all the emptiness left behind in the wake of this tragedy. The classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary sit empty today, no longer bursting with laughter and activity. Twenty children’s beds are empty now, as are their parents’ arms.

In the emptiness, I’m full of grief for those parents whose loss is beyond comprehension. I’m filled with gruesome thoughts I can’t turn off. I imagine how terrified those children must have been in their final moments, and my heart aches. I’m full of sadness when I think about the unopened presents under their Christmas trees and the gifts from Santa that remain hidden away in closets and under beds.

I’m full of anger for the futures of the children who survived this tragedy and the innocence they’ve lost. How have they been permanently traumatized by these events? Did those gunshots somehow alter who these children were on their way to becoming? Will they ever be the same?

I’m full of doubt and fear as Hubs and I slowly begin to discuss the prospect of having a second child. I barely stayed on this side of the brink after Quinn was born. This intense love I never knew existed caused me to do crazy things and think crazy thoughts.

It’s a good thing Quinn isn’t old enough to be in school yet. I would definitely keep him home today, and probably tomorrow… and probably the next day…

I know that’s the irrationality of a first-time-parent talking, and maybe if we have a second child, I won’t have postpartum depression and anxiety at all. But as soon as I start to think I might be capable of giving Quinn a sibling, something happens to change my mind. This school shooting has been hard to recover from. 

How can I possibly keep two children safe?

All that love might drive me insane. 

Matt wanted to put Quinn to bed on Friday night. I didn’t want Q out of my sight, but after being gone for so long and after the day’s tragedy, I thought Hubs might really need that bonding time with Q. So I kissed them both and went to the gym for some stress relief. I tried to lift weights, but my heart was already so heavy. So I jumped onto the elliptical machine and tried to run through my anger and grief. I ran for an hour. I ran until my side cramped up.

My anger and grief were waiting for me at the end of my run.

The line of televisions on the wall all played news coverage from the shooting. All except one.

One TV played Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and I cracked a small smile. I hope some families out there found comfort and joy in that holiday classic after a tragic day. I hope those parents looked at their children laughing on the sofa, or giggling amid a pile of pillows and blankets on the floor in front of the TV, and said a prayer of gratitude.

I definitely did. 




14 comments:

  1. You have to know that you can't possibly keep two children safe at all times (and trust me, I've tried). But you could keep two children loved beyond measure. Thinking of you, my friend, and all the other moms out there today.

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Cheryl. You're such a fabulous mom and bloggy friend.

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  2. It's been a tough few days all around and I can't even fathom what these poor parents are going through today. How do you go on from something like this?

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    1. My thoughts exactly, Susi. I have no idea how one survives the death of a child. Heartbreaking doesn't even begin to describe it.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your feelings... I've been struggling with similar thoughts. Such a heart wrenching, tragic loss. :(

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    1. I know. This is has been difficult for all of us parents. Weeks later, I still look at Q and just want to hold him tight.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Mel. So unbelievable and I've had a hard time discussing my feelings with anyone. What if those were our babies? I cannot fathom. What if those were my students? Too hard to even wrap my mind around. Love you. Hug Q for me!

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    1. Thinking of you and all my teacher friends right now! Those teachers are such incredible heroes. Big hugs and love to you and E!

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  5. Very well written. I lie awake in my bed past midnight thinking of those last minutes of those babies lives. So unbelievably heartbreaking. I can't stand to see Olivia bump her head----how do these poor parents go on?! How will the survivors return to their classrooms?? How will any of those teachers teach there again? I too, Mel I'm feeling ridiculously anxious thsee past few days. We'll do the best we can to put on happy faces for our little ones. Xoxox

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    1. I feel the same worry. We'll do our best to keep our little ones safe as always and keep giving them lots of hugs. Xoxo!

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  6. Hi Melissa - that fierce love we have for our children never wanes....and I know that you have a big enough heart to share your love with 2...despite this crazy world. After 9/11, my Melissa was only 4 and we shielded her from the world with the help of non-stop Disney movies playing on the VCR. Disney or Rudolph...it doesn't matter, we do what we can to hold onto innocence. Hope you'll visit my blog to read my take on the horrible tragedy in CT - of course written from the perspective of a mother trying to save her child from harm. Lots of love, Lisa

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa. I adore your writing -- always from the heart and full of passion. I will definitely come by and read your words. Lots of love back to you and your family!

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  7. Well written ... putting into gently truthful words the hurt and fear of so many. I'm not sure how life looks after such a tragedy, but there is a decision to walk not in fear, but in faith. And to celebrate life as best we can with our children. Thanks for sharing your hear.

    Visiting from WOE.

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Morgan, and for your kind words. Likewise, I hope more of us can choose faith. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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