My mom called and asked if I'd seen the news.
I turned on the TV and watched it unfold along with the rest of our nation.
My heart cried. My brain got angry. I fought the urge to go pick up my kids from school, knowing that they were fine, but wanting to hold them in my arms anyway.
I thought back to 911 and remembered how I grieved, yet felt so far removed from the tragedy. After all, it was a big city in a big tower in a place that was a strategic target. I was in small town USA on a college campus and while I was overwhelmed with sadness, I never felt like that could have been me.
But Friday? Oh Friday. Friday could have been anybody's baby. I don't know of a mother who didn't feel like some part of her had been ripped out when she heard the news.
I saw the reports and watched the battle play out on Facebook. Guns versus no guns. Right versus left. Mental health versus pure evil. People were all picking a side and the only thought I could put together was a fight about tangled hair and missing shoes.
Friday morning was just like every morning at our house. It was a mad scurry- and even madder than normal.
My kids have a serious routine in the morning. Clothes, breakfast, hair and teeth, then shoes and out the door. In my mind, it's simple. It makes sense. But the kids? Ahhh, the kids. They develop amnesia every night and wake up acting like they've never gotten ready for school before.
Wait? You mean we have to wear shoes? You mean we have to eat breakfast? It comes as a surprise every single morning that the bus comes at the exact same time.
The minute they hear the bus, they all of a sudden remember everything they've forgotten over the last 24 hours and suddenly someone shouts, "But I was supposed to wear purple!" or "Mom! I forgot I have to take money for my yearbook and it's due TODAY!"
Sometimes there are tears because the overly sensitive one gets stressed when she's rushed. Or the one with sensory problems isn't a fan of how his winter coat feels.
Somehow, we pull it together and they get out the door. I kiss foreheads and tell them the same thing every day, "I love you. Love Jesus and love people today." But I say it more out of a sense of routine. I don't even think about what I'm saying. Sometimes I'm sure my tone is way more Satan and not a whole lot of Jesus.
On Friday, the bus was waiting on the street in front of my house. The kids were poking along and I yelled out, "Run... that's not running. Run faster... the bus is waiting on you!!!"
I closed the door and breathed a sigh of relief as they headed off for the day. I didn't even stop to think about my tone or how the hustle and bustle of my everyday life sometimes causes me to be short and send my children out into the world on a bad note. I just shut the door and went on to the next thing.
Until I heard the news. And then that fight about finding shoes and the tears while combing the tangles out of the hair and telling the kids to love Jesus while my tone said otherwise was all I could think about. I was full of guilt thinking that if that had been my child, my last encounter with them would have been one full of curt words, hurried hugs instead of lingering ones, and an overall sense of not being able to wait to push them out the door.
That could have been any of our kids. It was somebody's kid. Somebody's world.
It puts everything into perspective. My kids got off the bus on Friday afternoon and there were children who would never ride the bus again.
I could hug them and make up for a bad morning and try my best to do better going forward- but there were moms who wouldn't get that chance to do better next time.
I got to look at my babies and hold them and make their dinner and wash their clothes and pick up their toys and comb their tangles and tie their shoes and yet in Newtown, Connecticut...
Perspective. And while I know that it doesn't always last as time and distance from a tragedy grow, for this season, it has reminded me to treasure the everyday and pray for grace from the One who can turn guilt and sadness into more love. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Sandy Hook Elementary.
February 2010- a week after Miles came home from the Congo.