A usual morning. Awoken by my five year old, stumbling out of my dark room to start his warm bath. He had wet the bed. Like most mornings we were sloths. Cold cereal was consumed, warm clothes were put on. We missed the bus.
We drove to school this morning. It was not the first time, we have missed the bus before. I lead him through the parking lot and through the hallway out into the rain to his classroom door. There they were. All lined up. Smiling. Waiting. Unable to hide their excitement. The world has not yet stolen that. I’m not sure exactly how many of them are in his class but very nearly eighteen.
The teacher opened the door and they filed in. I turned away to return to my car.
“Wait!” he cried, “I want a hug!”
I knelt down and hugged him like I have so many times before. This time, though, I held a bit tighter and for a little longer.
I got back to the car. I started the ignition. I wept. Uncontrollably. Hell, I was balling as soon as I let him go. Good thing it was raining this morning.
I got home and hugged my wife. She saw me crying.
But really, everything. She understands and just hugs back.
It’s hard not to feel defeated. Hopeless.
So what do I do?
Words are not enough, they are not up to this challenge. It was not words that ripped those people, those kids, so violently away from time and space, from mountain and wave, from sky and sea, from sun and moon, from light and love, from song and dance, from hug and kiss. No, words will not do.
So what then? Make something. I made snowflakes with my kindergartner on Saturday. I wanted to make eighteen but only made three. I fail. I am human. But I won’t stop trying.
When given the opportunity to destroy, I will create. When give the chance to tear down, I will build up. Instead of take, I will give. Instead of mock, I will encourage. Instead of push, I will embrace. Instead of hate, love.
Create, give, encourage, embrace, love. Every chance you have to celebrate life grasp it! Hold it tight! Revel in it! Spread it to those who need it! Parade it in front of Death. Throw it in Death’s face. Dance so that Death will be trampled under your feet. Sing so that Death winces at the sound. Hug so Death will be crushed under the pressure.
But I don’t know if I am ready. For now I still mourn.
(Beau volunteers in Finn’s kindergarten class twice a week. I had a feeling he would take the Connecticut tragedy especially hard. Today he wrote me this to me. I asked him if I could post it because it’s the first thing I’ve read that makes me feel hope since it happened. Beau completely amazes me at his willingness to forgive those who have wronged him. As a young teen he wrote a letter of forgiveness to gang members that held his family hostage at gunpoint. If anyone can help me to live life beautifully and without fear, it’s Beau.)