Monday, December 17, 2012
Newtown: The Morning After
You woke up on Saturday morning, just as you will wake up every morning from now on.You'll roll over, eyes bleary. You'll look at the clock, check the weather, and sigh... or cry... or go back to bed and pull the covers over your heads.
It's just too much to bear.
You woke up with a hole in your lives, a hole that cannot be filled, no matter how well intentioned friends and family might be, no matter how much love is riding the tidal wave to your town. The school bus.... the breakfast dishes.... the toothbrush in the SpongeBob cup.... the ornament she made last Christmas hanging front and center on the tree he decorated two nights ago... before ….
Your world is divided: Now and Then. There's no going back. I know. I've tried.
What you want, you cannot have. You don't want very much, just to have things be as they were on Wednesday night, when you tucked your sons and daughters into bed, visions of sugar plums and vacation dancing in their heads. You want to urge her to finish her pancakes because the bus won't wait if she's late. You want to remind him to feed the puppy before he eats his own meal. You want normal.
It's not a new normal – there is nothing normal about it. It's awful and it doesn't go away. You will learn how to manage the feelings, how to find a place to rest your hearts as you go about the grocery shopping and the laundry and snow shoveling. The everyday pieces need tending, because life goes on.
You'll come to recognize the signs of incipient panic, or, perhaps. a rage that starts at your toes and explodes out of the top of your heads. You will pray and you will hug and you will never be whole again.
That's the beast in it all – it never really goes away. You learn to work around it, but it's always there. It's not a disease from which you can recover. It is what it is and there's no way to make it better.
I am three weeks shy of the second anniversary of my own brush with gunfire and death, 101 weeks without my little nine year old friend. While you were facing your first morning after, I went to Stuff the Hummers with toys at an event sponsored by the foundation her parents created to keep her memory alive. It will honor Christina-Taylor, but it won't bring her back.
And that's what you want – you want your little ones back. All you did was send them to school. There shouldn't be any guilt, any second guessing, any what if's, but it will take some time to figure that out. And then, even then, it won't make much of a difference.
The conversation will go to the lack of political will on regulating gun ownership and the lack of funding for mental health services and the commentators will rant and petitions will be signed and outrage will be felt.... but none of it really mattered in Newtown that morning, and all the mornings since then. It's all still too raw.
There will be time to move forward, to do good deeds in their name, to rebuild. There will be time. You will find a way to face the days. I promise. It will come, in time.
That morning and this morning, it's all about loss.