"So, what do you think about what happened in Colorado?"
The question catches me off guard, because it seems silly. Like, "So, what do you think about Tom and Katie's divorce?", or, "So, what do think about all those mason jars on Pinterest?". But of course, it's not a silly question and, unlike the others (don't care, really weird, used interchangably), it's one I don't know how to answer.
I don't think about it. I feel about it. Horrified, heartbroken, confused. But the most prevalent feeling, the most base and real and visceral reaction, is a hearty and heated, what the fuck?
What the fuck, y'all?
I've seen all kinds of articles today - thoughtful, well written, articles - telling me how to talk to my children about the tragedy. Guess what? I don't want to. Katie is eleven. We live in Squareville USA in a comfortable house where the most serious issue facing her is what she's going to wear on the first day of middle school. Am I going to shatter that sweet silence with the idea that a six year old kid can walk into a movie theater without a care in the world, and get wheeled out, dead, killed by a maniac?
Fuck that noise. I won't do it. I can't do it.
I woke up in the middle of the night, my heart squeezed tight in my chest. There was an elephant sitting there, and I couldn't breathe. My hands clutched the blanket and I couldn't hear the small boy beside me snoring softly, for the roar of blood in my ears. My eyes were hot with tears and I could not shake the idea that one of my children was in danger. They are in bed, they are under this roof, they are safe, we are safe, they are safe, we are safe. And when my heart finally stopped pounding and I was able to move again, I walked through the house. Doors shut. Doors locked. Children sleeping, innocent and unknowing.
I'd like to keep it that way.
I feed them small sips of reality through a bendy straw, filtered with age appropriate language and tempered by platitudes. Nothing will happen here, my babies. Reassuring hugs and ice cream, and the hope that they'll just forget all the things that keep me awake at night.
What do I think?
I think that worrying about it is a million times easier than facing it. I think talking about it as some abstact beats the hell out of explaining what just happened in reality.
And when I'm forced, when I have no choice but to swallow my anxiety and sit down and tell them truths no child should have to hear, I remember to tell them this:
For every loss and fear and evil and wrong, there is a light. There is goodness and hope and healing. For every step we can not take alone, there is someone who will carry us.
I need to believe it as much as they do.
When I was seventeen, I found myself in the middle of a riot in Berkeley. It happens. In an instant, I was faced with a rushing mass of people. I could not run fast enough to escape them and then, true to form, I fell. I looked up and saw that within seconds, I was going to be trampled. Leading the charge, heading straight for me, was an enormous man, face set like stone.
I could not move. Instinctually, I curled my body into a ball and covered my face. And then, instead of being overrun, I found myself flying. Lifted under the arms by this massive man who carried me, running, around a corner to safety. He paused only long enough to press me into a doorway, push my shoulders back and say, gently, 'Stay', before he began to run again.
When I watch my children fall, when I see a crowd coming around the corner, ready to run them over, I have to tell them they're coming. I have to tell them why. Then, I have to pick them up and help them fly.
2 weeks ago