So Many Angels. Can You See Them?Posted: December 15, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, my husband called to ask me if I heard about the news from Connecticut. I had, but some innate defense sprang up and did not allow me to react until I had the space to do so. I listened numbly to the news on the radio, I even relayed the news to an elderly friend. I hugged my baby tight before putting him to bed, and only when he was sound asleep did I delve into the tragedy of yesterday’s news.
Tears were pouring from my eyes half way into a paragraph describing the scene, and I wavered between wanting to read more and being too horrified to continue. It breaks my heart as a human being, and injures a part of my soul as a parent. The hardest part for me is that it is a familiar ache, and though I have no relationship to the adults and children that died yesterday, I can’t help but remember what it felt like to lose my father.
There is no silver lining to an incident as horrifying as yesterday. It stirs difficult emotions in everyone, and I can only hope people will be as understanding and compassionate with each other as long as possible; towards people like my husband, who has never so much as lost a pet, but cannot stop himself from tearing up in public as he watches the news on the television at the gym. On days when the pain is especially raw, a smile from a stranger can be the motivation to keep going on with life, as random and hard as it sometimes feels.
Those poor families from yesterday have a long road of mourning and sadness ahead of them. We brought our son to sleep in our bed last night for a while. I stayed up late watching him, terrified and envious of the vast possibilities of life that lies ahead for him. Sometimes it is hard for me to empathize with death, losing my father when I was 10 infused me with a sense that it happens to everyone, and we’ve no choice but to continue on with our lives. I was sad when my 87 year old grandmother died last year, but I did not mourn her passing. She died peacefully. But a life that ends in violence is one of the greatest tragedies I can imagine, and I think that is part of the reason I am having such a hard time reading the news from yesterday. Post traumatic stress bubbled up in my throat, and I crawled into bed until my husband got home. I don’t deserve any more or less sympathy, but I feel especially vulnerable, and as a parent now I have to offer my child the courage to not be afraid, and the tools to deal with our sadness when it arises.
We’re all hugging our children a little closer today, cuddling our pets, being extra nice to each other. I haven’t felt this sad through my core in years. I hope everyone remembers their manners and compassion in the days to come, and the debate about why tragedies like this occur stay far from those closely affected. I plan to escape further into my re-readings of Ian McEwan. If anyone needs a healthy diversion in the form of fiction, please suggest Enduring Love. It is a portrait of a man who recovers after witnessing a tragedy (though in no great proportions as yesterday’s). McEwan offers realistic, strong and moral characters. I’m finding some peace re-reading The Comfort of Strangers.