As we all try to absorb the unspeakably disgusting mass murder that took place in Connecticut this morning, people will debate the Second Amendment, Tweet their outrage, vent their disbelief. As a parent, I think there are a few things we can all agree on. What can we learn from this? It is devastating, and it's simple.
As for me, I'm going to just put down the iPhone and Facebook for a while and play with Andrew. I'll stop trying to capture the moments on Instagram and actually become part of the moment with him. Because I never know when it will be too late, when Instagram memories might be all I have left.
Because it could happen to me. Or to you. It hasn't yet, but it could. So I want to remember how lucky I am: how lucky I am to be able to worry about ordering his Christmas presents on time, how lucky I am to be stressing out over what to get his teachers, how lucky I am to smell his disgusting diaper dekkor and trip over his little Thomas the Tank engines and get woken up in the night when he coughs.
I hope to be grateful but realize that I am not exempt. Joan Didion talks about "invoking the exemption" in The Year of Magical Thinking, because she always thought that things like death could simply never happen to her ... until her husband died and then her daughter died. Isn't this how we all think? We operate in a bucolic bubble of exemption and odds, so often believing that horror can never happen to us, that tragedy is a commodity for the news. Of course we can't spend our lives worrying about the future, renting mental space on horrible possibilities that might never arise. But we also have to remember that, no matter how much we plan and how much we worry and how much we try to Do the Right Thing and how consequently safe we feel, absolutely anyone can be blindsided. My Nana used to have a saying: There but for the grace of God go I. I'm not religious, but I get her point.
That's why I'm going to try to stretch each moment with Andrew, at least for a little while. I know that, once the shock wears off, I will eventually go back to my iPhone and my Facebook and my annoyance over his Legos that litter the floor. I am not a saint. Who is? But I will also try to remember this: What a luxury it is—what an honor it is—to be burdened by the snags of everyday life.
My heart goes out to these families.
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