Normally I'm the woman quietly weeping in front of her television for days on end. I sometimes think that soaking up as much information as possible is my way of grieving or processing what happened; feeling all the feelings, trying to imagine myself in the tragedy is my way of somehow serving or honoring or respecting the victims.
With this latest evil I am weirdly, almost guiltily, detached. I can think of three reasons. The first is that the crazy pills kicked in for reals about a month and a half ago and even when I've TRIED to imagine my own child not coming home from school, my brain just doesn't go there. Like that option is no longer available, that switch is flicked.
The second is that this one is so far beyond my ability to comprehend that my own body is protecting me from attempting it. Like if I actually succeeded in empathizing I would never leave my house again. I've thought: "what good am I to my own children if I let myself descend into that pit?" So I haven't. I suppose this is also called Denial.
The third is that maybe it's GOD protecting me. Knowing the sort of person I am, knowing my responsibilities to the three kids who live here with me. Like he's saying, "it's okay, you don't have to feel all the feelings this time, I know what's inside you."
But this morning, I don't know. I wondered if I was maybe ready to feel the feelings. Which isn't to say I've totally absolutely avoided everything. Friday I went around in a nauseous daze, Saturday a glimpse of a 6-year-old's face on the news sent me into the bathroom to sob.
But this morning, I turned on the TV. I turned on The View, knowing that I would either love what they were saying or hate it. Like I felt maybe a good five minutes of gun control disagreement might be engaging, or at least give me something to focus on.
Except then Joy Behar said something like, and I am SO paraphrasing: "I guess 'they're in a better place' is consolation for some people" and I thought, "JOY. That is the ONLY consolation anyone could possibly HAVE."
Because I believe in God and heaven, and the promise of heaven is how I've clawed my way through many a World War II book. Of course those children should be here with their parents, but you know what? Heaven is better. It HAS to be better. It has to be a million trillion frillion times better than anything we can possibly dream up. That if any of us actually knew the truth of heaven and had to choose between it and "growing up, getting married, having our own kids, living a long peaceful happy life" we'd be all YEAH, NO CONTEST.
And I believe that one day those parents will be with their children again and none of this misery will exist. Otherwise we might as well go fling ourselves off the nearest cliff, you know?
I have some ideas as to how Joy Behar might respond to that, but whatever. She can deal her way and I'll deal my way. It involves a lot of wordless prayer, a quick supportive email to the kindergarten teacher, a preservation of delightful expectant Christmastime for my kids.
A few other things help:
All the teachers and former teachers I know, every single one of them would have locked the classroom door, huddled with the kids in a closet or a bathroom or the corner, and calmly read book after book until it was time to come out. Without a doubt. Teachers love their students. The teachers I know, especially the ones in my family, are amazing people. I can't picture them in a scenario where they don't think of their students first.
Checking in with friends. Most of us have small children. Just a few quick texts this morning to see how drop off went. That we are so unanimously and equally horror struck gives one a little faith in humanity.
Donating. Besides prayer I couldn't think of another way to turn my grief into something that might actually help.
...that's all, I think. Add this post to the heaps of others that had no need to be published, but are out here because I needed to write something down.
*ETA: after reading Sarah's comment I just wanted to say that I didn't mean this to be a platitude I would offer to grieving families, only something I say to myself to reconcile my own despair over horrific things happening to innocent people. What she said about Jesus weeping with us - yes. This.