I spent Friday morning getting my three-year old son ready to go take pictures with Santa.
We drank hot chocolate and changed chocolate stained shirts and only argued a little bit about the daily task of putting on shoes.
We headed to a local children’s museum where we waited in line for our turn. My son stepped up to see Santa and told him his Christmas wishes and smiled for a picture.
We returned home and continued our day, which that day included getting ready for Christmas and a trip out-of-town for the weekend.
A few states away in Connecticut, I imagine that families went through the same daily routine of getting ready in the morning, and maybe even went through a struggle to put on shoes.
Then the parents dropped their children off at school and went on with their days, which may have involved crossing off a to do list for Christmas or getting ready for a busy weekend.
And then their lives were changed forever when the unspeakable tragedy of an elementary school shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Our world is full of tragedy. Of news stories that break our hearts and make us want to lock our doors tighter. Of devastation.
But this wasn’t a story about “bad guys” shooting each other or a natural disaster that no one could control.
This is a story of people living every day lives, and children being in an environment where they should be safe, and a gunman shooting innocent children.
I have found myself following the news closely, searching for information. What I realized was that I was searching for understanding, searching for a way to turn back time and make it go away. Searching for the impossible.
I found myself in tears as I watched the story unfold and I also found myself trying to hide it from my son.
Not because I don’t want him to see me cry and not because I don’t want to share my emotions with him. But because I still wanted to protect him from this; from everything.
I have experienced the devastation of losing someone I love when I lost my father when I was 18. I have lived the moment when time stands still and your world is changed forever.
I have attended the funeral of a little girl I baby sat for when she passed away in an unexplained accident when she was only 9.
I have taught, loved, and cared for classes of students when I taught Kindergarten.
And I have experienced the indescribable, all-consuming love of being a parent with the blessing of my son. I am the mother of a little boy named Noah, the same name of one of the children killed. His funeral will be held today.
This tragedy isn’t about me. It happened to people I don’t know, in a state I’ve never visited. But oh how my heart aches for these families that have senselessly lost loved ones.
My husband says to turn off the media. Knowing what happened does not changed what happened.
My son lives in an innocent world not yet tainted by such tragedy.
And so I sneak news articles on my phone, and I pray silently in the darkness of the night. I let my tears fall into the stillness and the fabric of my pillow. And I pray fiercely, stealing moments at stop lights and in the quiet moments before drifting to sleep.
I didn’t tell my son and I have been hiding my tears, though it seems to be consuming my almost every thought.
I didn’t tell him, because I want to protect his three-ness.
I want him to still be able to live in a world where monsters are just imaginary things hiding under the bed and not real things taking the lives of children in an elementary school.
I want him to live in a world where school is a safe place, not a place to be scared of.
I want him to live in a world of pretend and cuddles and kisses.
I could not look in my son’s eyes without tearing up through the weekend, because this tragedy awakens the darkest of scenarios in our minds, the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.
I have read many articles about how to talk to your children about this tragedy and about how we should hug our children tighter.
The truth for me is, I couldn’t hug my child any tighter than I normally do. I couldn’t love him any more than I do every day, with the all-consuming ferocity type of love I have only experienced since becoming a mother.
And I am choosing not to talk to my son about what happened. I am choosing to let him continue to live in the world of a three-year old, where he is still discovering his world and our greatest struggle is putting on shoes.
My prayers are with the families in CT, as their worlds and lives will be forever changed.
My heart will be overflowing with love for my son, as it does everyday. And for now, I will continue to let him live in his three-year old world not yet tainted with broken hearts and dreams.
I didn’t tell him. Because there will be life to live that will jade him and take away the pieces of his innocence and this world will disappoint him and scare him.
I didn’t tell him, but I am telling myself, and I am mourning with the families in CT as they begin the life long journey of grief.
I am choosing not to tell him. But I am not choosing to ignore this, or stop my prayers, or allow myself to remember those moments of pain or touch on those parts of my life that can faintly relate to the devastation the families in CT are experiencing. Because in these moments, I think it is important for Newtown, CT to know that they are not alone.