When I was little, before I knew what a national tragedy was, I used to think that grown-ups all just pretended to care about things like that. I couldn’t, for the life of me, imagine crying over the hurt of a total stranger the way I’d seen or heard adults doing before. My mom used to tell me, in slow, reminiscent detail, about being in Miss So-and-So’s second grade class the day Kennedy was assassinated. Then there’s that country song about the whole word crying when the space shuttle Explorer fell out of the sky. In 10th grade, when my whole school was sent home early because our country was under attack, I still had a hard time feeling personally connected to those who went to work that day and never came home, or to the millions of family members devastated by the sonic boom following every single, tragic death. Of course it was awful and sad and serious, but I still came home and microwaved a hot pocket and watched t.v. at my friend’s townhouse and was glad I didn’t have homework.
I’ve cried so many times over what happened in Connecticut. Maybe it’s because I’m older. Maybe it’s because they weren’t. I don’t know, but I have a hard time understanding anyone who can’t cry over this.
I had to wave Mary away when she came home from girl scouts on Tuesday, and told me that six of them were girl scout Daisies. I had to Lamaze-breathe myself out of crying in front of the Ninjago lego sets at Toys ‘R Us, because I read that morning one of the little boys shot, loved those stupid things. I bet his mom had Christmas shopping almost done… She might be wondering what to do with that very $30.00 toy now that there’s no Noah to unwrap it.
Aaaaand, I have to stop.
Anyway, in the days that followed, there have been choirs of children singing Silent Night on comedy shows, and the flags have been set at half mast as if these children were the tiniest of soldiers; these teachers, the most badass of heroes. And the president cried on air, just mustering the gall to tell our country what happened.
A teacher, patting her eyes with a tissue but managing a smile, told us a story about one lion-hearted little boy who said to her as they were locked in a bathroom, “It’s okay, I know karate! I’ll lead the way out.”
Freckle-dotted faces of children who never even stopped believing there’s a tooth fairy yet, have littered the news. The last time I thought to check it, The Huffington Post had been alive and rowdy with political opinion. Three days ago the biggest story on there was the Eulogy of a six-year-old’s mommy, saying one last upbeat and crushingly brave goodbye. I sobbed all the way through the second half, locking myself in the bathroom until I could breathe enough of the pink out from behind my glasses.
And this one — ugh, this one hit me the worst.
I don’t know these kids. But I know what it’s like to fear for the safety of my children every waking moment (and for that matter, even in my reoccurring dreams) like there is nothing, nothing, nothing worse than losing them in even the gentlest, most peaceful of ways. I keep trying not to care because it’s four days before Christmas and every time Silent Night comes on, I’m a worthless puddle of grief. I can’t think or focus on anything but knowing that this really happened to somebody else’s Matthew and Mary and Scarlett. And for a long time after that, I don’t care a lot about very much else.
So the reason I’m writing this, even though I told myself that I wouldn’t, is because I’ve been wracking my brain for something helpful to do. How in the hell you can possibly help grieving people so far away, dealing with the intentional murders of their smallest family members days before Christmas — I had no idea. But I wanted to find something, and that’s honestly never happened to me before, so I thought it important to act on.
This morning I found this: Snowflakes for Newtown at I Can Teach My Child.
Obviously, the many survivors of the kindergarten massacre won’t be returning to their old, sullied classrooms. There’s a new building being set up for them to go back to in January, but there’s no doubt that it’ll be hard. There’s a lot that we can’t do for those kids. But what we can do, is make snowflakes. If all of us around the country make a few snowflakes with our kids this holiday and mail them to the new school in Connecticut, those precious babies – whose innocence has been ripped from their souls far, far too soon – will return in January to a cheerful, little Winter Wonderland of snow.
That’s pretty cool. Small, but big, ya know?
Mary made something with her girl scout troop also, that they’ll be mailing to the school. I’m curious to know if anyone else is aware of, or can come up with, any ways (seriously, at all) to contribute – either to the families of victims or to help make life easier for the surviving teachers and students, or just to give our condolences to the community of Newtown, whose Christmas this year is sure to be a hard one. If so, leave a comment and I’ll do everything I can to spread the word.
Let me know if you guys make snowflakes today. Before we drop our letters off to Santa, it’s certainly what we’ll be doing over here!