This has been a day that will go down in infamy–December 14–when 20 young children were shot and killed in a Connecticut school. I know that you were somewhat aware of what was going on due to me watching CNN all afternoon, but I tried to keep you occupied with the pleasantries of our daily life so that you wouldn’t totally process what happened. I know that you, with your sensitive nature, would’ve deeply pondered the senseless killing.
I’m writing this to you so that one day, you can look back and read it and understand just what your mommy went through on this horrific day. Parents nationwide are shaken to think that innocent children were slaughtered in what is supposed to be a safe environment.
I’m also writing this because you are not with me tonight, and I long to hold you close. I’m reading on Facebook tonight how parents all over America are clinging to their children as if to reassure themselves that surely this couldn’t ever happen to them. I just read comments by hard-nosed newspaper editors and reporters who said they rushed home from work to clasp their children and tell them how much they love them. One man said that his daughter is in college, but all he could see today was her five-year-old face.
I do not begrudge you your time with your dad. I am so glad you have a daddy who wants to be with you and will take good care of you while you’re there. But that doesn’t mean that I am not having a particularly hard time tonight with you gone. At the time of such tragedy, parents naturally want to be near their children. And tonight I sit alone when what I need is your little head on my shoulder as is your late night custom.
After you left tonight, the house was suddenly so quiet. But I know that, God willing, you will soon be running around the living room again, playing your brilliantly imaginative games with your Mario figures. It makes my heart ache to think about those parents in CT whose houses will never be the same again. No five-year-olds playing with their Barbies in the floor. No six-year-olds running their Lightning McQueens and Maters over the furniture.
A few minutes ago, I heard your little voice on the telephone. You said, “Mommy, when are you gonna pick me up?” And when I told you I’d see you early in the morning at your basketball game, you cried out, “Yay!!” Before I hung up, you said, “Wait a minute, Mommy!” Then I heard your voice bark like a dog. You told me, “That was my doggie telling you good night.”
You insisted that I tell our dog Rocky good night for you. So I, too, barked like a dog and said, “Rocky says good night to you, too.” Then your sweet little boy voice told me, “I love you, Mommy.” And I choked back tears as I said, “Love you, too, little buddy.”
I am tormented by the thought of the parents of the deceased school children–parents who would literally give a limb or vast amounts of money if they could only hear the sweet voice of their little child. No more “I love you” at night before bed. No more “Mommy, will you read me a book?” after bath time.
I find it comforting that just before and at the time of this tragic school shooting, I was able to spend such great one-on-one time with you. I will never forget your face yesterday when you reached your decision about attending the midnight showing of “The Hobbit” with your four siblings. You had had such trouble deciding–having looked forward for so long to the premiere of that movie–but when you did, you were rock-solid. You smiled at me and informed your brother and sister, “I’m staying with Mommy! I want to see the movie with Mommy!”
My heart just melted like warm butter when you said that. And when they all took off a little after 10 last night for the movie, you and I snuggled up on the couch to watch “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.”
Remember how we bundled up to go outside on the deck and watch the Geminid Meteor Shower? You saw the first one and pointed it out with joy! The memory of the two of us in the frigid December air, our faces looking heavenward to the crystal clear sky where stars glistened with unusual clarity, the peaceful silence of the night, is a memory that has now been etched in my heart.
When we got too cold to stand out there, remember how we rushed inside, turned off all the lights and watched from the big window in the living room? We each saw a few meteors streaking through the sky–gasping with delight at the sight–before we gave up the vigil and went to bed. You barely had time to strategically place your favorite stuffed animals around your pillow and kiss me before you were asleep. I remember gazing upon your innocent face before I switched off the lamp and snuggled up beside you.
This morning, weren’t we so excited to wake up and know that it was OUR turn to go to the movie?! I kept looking back at you on the ride to Winston-Salem as you were happily staring out of the window at the sunny December day. When I’d ask, “You okay, buddy?” you would nod and smile. I remember telling Alan what a nearly perfect boy you are when your other siblings aren’t bugging you!
So there we sat in the darkened theater, our 3-D glasses on our faces, ready to see Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and our other friends from Middle Earth. We shared our popcorn, and I kept admonishing you not to drink too much so that we wouldn’t have to miss part of the movie to go potty. Through the exciting movie, I kept looking over at you–just wanting to see the joy on your face. Sometimes you would feel the scrutiny and turn to smile reassuringly at me. Occasionally, I would take your hand and you would squeeze mine.
When it was done, I enthusiastically asked you, “Where do you want to eat, little fella?” You thought for a minute, having been torn between Burger King and Taco Bell (after telling me with superiority that you just didn’t care for sit-down restaurants), and decisively said, “Taco Bell.” How you tore into those soft tacos! And weren’t you thrilled with the Baja Blast you don’t normally get to drink?
In the midst of this idyllic day when I was so thrilled to have this mother-son time with you, there came a text that changed the mood of the day. It was your sister Meghann telling me about the elementary school students being shot and killed. For a split second, the world stopped turning as I imagined the horror for the children before they died, the torment suffered by their parents and the scarring of the children who escaped but witnessed the carnage.
And I held you even closer, trying to come to terms with the fact that we live in a fallen world where monsters exist all around us, clad in normal clothes and walking the ruts of life just as we do.
I wish I could tell you it will never happen again. I wish I could assure that you will never feel hurt in your life. I wish I could shelter you from the pain and sadness that are inevitable parts of this life on Earth.
But I can’t. I can only point you toward a God Who loves you unconditionally, Who has promised us peace in the midst of the storm, Who holds us in the palm of His hand despite the rigors of life in a fallen universe. And I can pray that you will see His light in the gray day of normal life, that His love can spread to the Adam Lanzas of this world so that they no longer feel the need to strike out with harm to others.
Before long, you will be too big to sit on my lap. You will eventually grow taller than I and move into a place of your own. I would hope that you will have children so that you can experience these feelings that I feel for you.
But until then, I pledge to take care of you, to mentor you, to protect you as best I can, but most of all, to love you unconditionally in a way that only a mommy or daddy can do. Such love overcomes all tragedy and the hatred that leads to the violence we saw today.
I wanted you to know all of these things, my little son. This has been a day of great joy yet great heartache for me. But through the sun and the rain, one thing remains constant–the love that God has given me for you.