My mess of words where words fail (I didn’t know where else to put this)
We’ve had hard conversations with Isak before – when his grandfather died, when Kitty didn’t come home, questions he had after reading a book on WWII, our pregnancy loss, more recently the split of his beloved aunt and uncle right before their wedding, but this Connecticut horror has been particularly difficult.
First of all, I’m still trying to get my own head around it, to unclench my heart and stop tearing up every time I think about it. The whole thing is so unbearably tragic, particularly the children who were killed with such violence, hitting even harder because they were his age. I can’t fathom the hows and whys.
I spent a great deal of Friday trying to tear myself away from the news but seemed unable to do anything but sit there on the couch in front of the television with tears pouring down my face, just wanting to go pick him up from school and not put him down until I absolutely had to. Later at the school, the parents were all shaken, red-eyed, or gingerly telling the few who hadn’t heard.
I think it’s hard for anyone, particularly a parent, to tear their head and heart away from imagining themselves in the same place. I feel a brutal empathy for what these families must be going through – it’s physically painful. I imagine how Isak would react to having something like this happen in his quiet little school.
It’s not only for the kids and adults killed, but for the catalyst in this (who obviously needed help), and all of us too. Waves of shock, horror, grief hitting family, friends, first responders and people bravely dealing with the aftermath, the whole community there the hardest, but it continues outward in an awful tsunami hitting anyone it touches. It also bleeds out into other discussions – gun control, mental illness, violence, the beast of a feast media puts before us, how to change things enough to make a difference, etc.
I know there are many, many horrible things in the world, but this one hits extra hard, and left us personally responsible for a very hard conversation. It will be discussed and he’ll come across it, either in print, flipping through channels, overheard bits, there may be prayers when he’s at church with my parents today and there’ll definitely be talk on the playground tomorrow. Kids are also very perceptive to upset in the adults around them, Isak in particular – we needed to touch on this.
M. and I discussed it first, decided honesty was important but less was definitely best. We sat down with him and explained that a very bad thing had happened that a lot of people are upset by, so we wanted to talk to him about it first. We kept it brief: a man hurt a lot of people, many of them children, but he can’t hurt anyone ever again, and this was far away, not to worry, but everyone is feeling very sad about it and talking about it. There was more, but those are the bones.
He didn’t ask for any more details, though we said he could, now or later, and we’d tell him anything he wanted to know. We didn’t directly say anyone was killed, anything about how, mention that it was in a school… if he asks specific questions about anything along those lines we’ll talk further, but he just looked sad and serious and wanted hugs. Afterward we lightened things with a new little lego sphere we’d promised if we had extra good behavior this week.
So we’ve touched on this as best as we could, it may or may not come up again. I’d like to hear how anyone else went about this, if they did. As parents, we’re still left reeling with full knowledge of it. I didn’t want to let him go with his grandparents for a planned overnight, I wanted to hug him all weekend, but I need to deal with my feelings within myself and not have it dampen his good times.
I wish for peace and healing to come to everyone knocked down by this tragedy, directly or indirectly, and I hope slivers of a silver lining come together somehow – that out of such tremendous darkness there can be solid changes made and people pulled tighter together, reaching out to each other more. I’m going to try to stop absorbing the pain, squeeze out the sponge—spend extra time and attention on my family, the people I love, gratitude for life.
Love to all. 12 months ago