On Friday I was at my division’s Christmas party, sitting with my boss and two coworkers while we ate steak and drank beers together. The topic of social media came up and Twitter and because we are all digital nerds, our smart phones immediately came out. I flipped through my Twitter feed and my breath caught as the news broke – a shooting at an elementary school. My fingers flew to CNN and the bile rose in my throat.
My first gut reaction – “I want my baby. Now.”
People were already saying their goodbyes, completely oblivious to the world outside of the restaurant. They would know soon enough. I grabbed my coat and thanked my boss and ran to my car. My eyes stung and the moment I got in my car and saw Harrison’s car seat, the tears fell. I sobbed for the mommas that wouldn’t be picking up their babies today, the mommas who did pick up their children, children who had now seen unmentionable horror at such a young age. The tears continued to fall as I drove to Harrison’s daycare and I didn’t care that it was nap time and it was “frowned upon” to pick up at that time – I needed my baby near me. A primal, mother-bear instinct to grab him to my chest and make sure he was okay and hold him for all the mommas that couldn’t hold theirs. Like that would somehow make a difference or a change.
I walked into the daycare and into his classroom and crouched by the little pad where he slept, breathing in and out. Safe. Warm. The tears kept coming in thankfulness and I gathered him up. He was sleepy and confused but I wouldn’t let him go and his teacher silently brought over his things with a sad smile. I thanked her.
I was thanking her for handing me his little lunchbox, but I was also thanking her for keeping him for me. I know she’d be as courageous and loving as the faculty that gave their own lives on Friday. It seems odd that I should feel thankful every time I pick him up at school…but then again, how can I not be thankful for it?
That afternoon, we played in the sunshine and I watched Harry run across the grass and I thought, “This should be the only world you know.” This sunshine and new grass and joy and energy. That’s the life my baby should know. We let him stay up late and watch Christmas movies and we ordered a pizza and ate it on a pile of blankets, right out of the box. As a way to hold on to something good and beautiful, despite the reeling in our hearts.
Today was difficult to drop him off. He clung to me because I think he feels the stress around him, the words the adults can’t say to him because he won’t understand. The other children danced around and it was just another day to them but I know for their mommas, dropping them off today was one of the hardest things.
And today will be the longest day until 5pm for many of us.
But nothing in comparison to the mommas of Sandy Hook.
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