This is a Prayer

This is not politics.  This is not up for discussion. 

This is pain for people I don’t know, but the pain is so whole, so over-powering, it feels like it belongs to me.  This is the third day of the school week; I’ve dropped off my first-grader at school, and already, again, I am anxious, as if I’ve dropped her at a shooting range, as if she’s jumping rope in a mine field, as if I’ve opened up the car door on an interstate and let her out to make her way. 

I took my daughters to the Nutcracker last weekend, and I felt unease, wondering if a gunman might choose this place next.  Even at church. 

I lived in the DC area ten years ago during those weeks of the sniper attacks.  I honestly thought I was in danger—and there was the real potential that I was—as I filled my car with gasoline. 

We felt it after 9-11.  We still do, many of us, when we board a plane. 

Now we feel it taking our children to school.  It’s too much.

My daughters want American Girl Dolls for Christmas.  I see this as irony.  This is not the America I knew as a child.  This is a war-zone. 

As I shop for last-minute gifts, as I wrap presents, as I sift flour for cookies, as I sit at night, staring at the lights on the tree, I think of the parents and siblings of the children who died in Connecticut.  What a time of year for this to happen to them.   If they can feel anything, how must they feel seeing the unwrapped gifts meant for their lost children?  It’s intensely heart-breaking.  It’s what my husband tells me to put aside, to try not to think about.  We as parents have an obligation to protect our children, to keep this holiday time a happy time for them.  It is our job as parents to hide the heaviness in our hearts.

I write this as an apology to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I am so painfully sorry.  I know, as time wears on, the intensity will lessen, the fear may diminish.  Still, we will not forget you–we can’t.

George Eliot writes, “If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”  I think about this sentiment when I hear sad stories of ordinary life, and often, these words help me to move on, to understand that I cannot take on the suffering of others like it is my own—it is too much to carry.  But the sound of this tragedy is deafening. 

This is a prayer.  This is a dandelion gone to seed blown into the wind by a child who still believes that wishes come true.  Ease our worries.  Lessen the roar.  Bring us peace.


2 Comments on “This is a Prayer”

  1. Bridget Davis says:

    You are an incredible writer! Thank you for putting into words what had been a big knot in my heart…I still think of those families every day. And I hug my children a little tighter every time they leave the house because of this tragedy. Peace, my friend.

  2. Laura Shovan says:

    Hi, Katie. My son had just started kindergarten during the DC-area sniper attacks. The shootings in Connecticut brought me back to that time, also. Thanks for this thoughtful post.


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