When Can We Breathe Again?

charlie_brownI went to pick up my four-year old daughter today from her preschool located inside a community church.  I had a relatively good day trying to be reflective and more available and open to Spirit, and less distracted by the noise of social media or the news.  So you can imagine my reaction when I learned of today’s horrific news that a 24-year old gunman opened fire at an elementary school claiming lives too many to count without streaming tears of helplessness.  I must be dreaming.

It seemed surreal as I stood there zipping my baby girl’s jacket, adjusting her barrette which I apparently clipped too tight this morning.  I could hear the chilling words from the chief reporting parent, as well as the words of the other mothers chiming in to confirm what they had also heard, but I was hearing all of this for the first time.  None of it made sense.

I am sure that finding meaning in all of this was on the minds of all the parents and grandparents gathered to retrieve their children, but it was too early to contemplate.   What will parents tell their children about their murdered friends, classmates, neighbors, or even siblings?

I stand away from Connecticut, but still know that tragedies like these seem to be hitting closer to “home”. Violence is quickly becoming a growing trend, and our most vulnerable are often the victims. In this case, it was children and courageous teachers who seem to be working in hostile times instead of developmental classrooms.  Please someone, tell me I am hearing wrong.

I loaded my girl into her safety seat and then my heart sank. I looked back at her more often than usual, to make sure that she was still there, safely buckled and intact where I left her. I needed her fully awake and present. I needed to see her eyes. I looked for comfort and assurance beyond their glimmer. I needed to hear some more incessant pleading, and annoying requests. I don’t mind them, nor do I complain today.  I needed to hear her.

My heart grows heavy with the knowledge that there are parents, not too far from here, who will not have the same privilege this evening. Instead, grief and an overwhelming sense of incomprehensibility await them.  Though we who stand outside of their community empathize, we’ll mostly go on about our business, while their realities will be forever altered. I pray that one day these families will find the strength that they need to carry on, but in the meantime, as they search to find meaning, I hope that a comforting touch, a deeply pressed hug, and the openness and sincerity of community will tend to their hearts and homes during a very difficult time.  This is my hope.

We may never find the words to describe this condition which seems to plague folk determined to carry out violence for whatever selfish, angry reasons they have, but I pray that our response will be one that will help these families find meaning in this.  But I am not sure anyone can.  I trust that in time we learn to trust, hope, and just breathe again.

24 thoughts on “When Can We Breathe Again?

  1. A,

    All I can say is that I empathize. My heart is still heavy about Newtown and all the needless deaths that continue to assail us. I have taken refuge in my righteous anger as the national debate about gun violence unfolds and idiocy seeks to rule the day over sanity and empathy. I pray for healing, peace and better days….



    1. And sometimes, that’s enough. At least it’s a great place to begin. Empathy is where activism often begins. I grow disheartened, but not discouraged. I know that it’ll take each and every one of us to turn the tide, on some level or another, no matter how seemingly minuscule. I am embarrassed to say that I have not been keeping much of an eye on the revitalized gun control debates (‘cept that I know one is underway), but I am going to head on over to your blog to get back in the “know”. You have a humorous and uncanny way of reeling me back into the national discourse. 🙂 Thank you, m’am!


  2. I wish you, your family & friends a wonderfully joyous and healthy, safe, fun Happy New Year….See you right back here next year….Namaste.


      1. Me too…. gonna be a hoot to watch Barack go gangsta with a smile on ’em.


  3. I’m unhappy I did not see this post sooner. WP reader? Anyway, you are quite a wordsmith, this is an eloquent post about a difficult topic. Recent studies show violence is declining, despite the frantic news stories. Not that it’s perfect consolation but at least it seems to be a trend that children are safer than ever before.

    Your daughter is lucky to have a calm, loving mother in this time of uncertainty.


    1. Hi Amelie! Thanks for those kind words. It was a subject that had to be handled with grace, for sure. I don’t know how calm of a momma I am, but loving I am. I am planting those kisses one by one and learning anew about being patient with my children. I feel like the lucky one to still be able to hold my children, but I take none of it for granted for none of it is promised. Tragedies like these remind us of the truly important things, but it should never take that. I pray that those studies are correct.


      1. One of the country’s most respected Harvard (and MIT) scientists, Steven Pinker, wrote a book on the topic. A brand new report also shows children are living to adulthood with much more frequency, probably due to seat belt laws and awareness about swimming safety. Cars are still a bit of an issue. Here’s the good talk though:


  4. There will never be ‘meaning’. There will never be a path through this horror. We can only hope these families can recover, can remember their children and other loved ones with peace and hope.

    This is terrible tragedy, horrifying for the families, community and nation.


    1. Good morning Valentine. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Absolutely, there is no “meaning”. Most of us will struggle to make sense of this, thinking perhaps this tragedy is meant to teach us something. The admission of that would imply a necessity of sorts, and I don’t buy that for one minute. This was a senseless and horrific tragedy that will forever change the way we look at safety, schools, children, community, grief, et al. Ultimately, we’ll have to make it past our anger, but in the meantime, we can pray and hope for healing and peace for our kindred families.


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