I wrote this essay on Christmas Eve 2012, a few weeks after the slaying of 20 children at Sandy Hook. The wound is reopened today on the two-year anniversary, the sentiments the same. Peace on Earth, good will to all...
December 24, 2012
Today as I vacuum and fuss to make the house welcome for my children and their children on Christmas Eve, it is not just the young ones in Sandy Hook that are on my mind. I think of the parents. Their grief fills my heart to aching. One of my grandsons is nearly six, which means that his father - my son - shares an age with those who grapple today with an unfathomable loss so far away.
Even when we are lucky enough to raise our children to adulthood, the desire to make everything alright for those we love never, ever leaves us. I am the mother of a father whose every day and hour is consumed by doing what is best for his children, who would, if he knew how, shield them from every harm imagined and unfathomable, and who believes - and has every right to do so - that his care and attention promises a long and happy life for the children he so dearly loves. I want no less for him.
To tell the young and eager parents of Sandy Hook that the fault is not theirs will make no difference in these dark and wintery days. To assure them that Christmas will come round again another year, does nothing to erase the equal truth that life will never be the same. In spite of time and distance, they will know forever the shape and color of vulnerability, the cold shadow of helplessness, the fear that nothing they do will ultimately protect their children from the jagged scars that threaten to alter all they have known and dreamed of. I want to wipe it all away. For them. For all of us... even as I try to imagine the courage it will take for them to put presents down beneath the tree, to light the lights and carry on.
Tonight I will, undoubtedly, hug my son a little tighter than usual when he steps through my door. I will tell him again what a good father he is and how lucky we are. Together, we will watch the kids' delight in the Christmas rituals we all love. And as dark comes on, we will light the tree and wonder at its power to make us whole. This act of faith and light is all we can do, selfish as it seems, to set the world back on its axis and keep away the shadows.