On my way to Kennebunkport in a limo for a luxurious girl’s weekend to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday, I, like everyone, was not prepared for the Newtown tragedy. It was a bit surreal to continue pampering ourselves, and indulging in wine and good food while families were suffering these unfathomable losses. But if you stop life, do the evil ones win? Did my friend not deserve to recognize the accomplishment of reaching fifty, even more so for those who will not?
I do believe in reasonable fate, that when my higher power calls for me, it could just as easily happen in an aisle of the grocery store as on a flight to Paris. I try each day to feel good about my accomplishments however small, and to make sure those I love, know it. But a classroom of Kindergarteners, I cannot rationalize God’s presence in that, cannot imagine a higher power needed so many, so young, so soon. There’s nothing reasonable here. Is it a grander warning about our abusive use of guns? Our negligence in strengthening laws after Columbine, Virginia Tech, the shootings in Vermont and at the movie theatre? There doesn’t seem to be any rationale to end the queasy unsettling in my core. No explanation valid enough for any of this.
When my three kids were little, everywhere I went with them I did a constant head count to myself: “One, two, three. One, two, three.” I find myself wanting to do it again now, wanting to know where they are, how long they’ll be away, and when they’ll be home where I can see them safe in front of me.
I have a 17 year old who thinks she’s our roommate now, on the verge of college, ready to take care of herself with minimal use for us. My 15 year old daughter can be temperamental, a bleeding heart one moment, in tune with everyone’s struggles around her, then off balance if something she was depending on doesn’t go perfectly. And my 12 year old son can have a sense of entitlement typical of a middle school boy, that on rare occasion the most powerful of prayers cannot provide me the patience for.
But this past weekend, and today, and for a long, long while, I will gratefully engage with my high school Senior in our power struggle for authority. I will suffer the wrath of my Sophomore’s emotions, glad to provide her a place to vent. And I will politely ask my son to remove his prince’s crown so that we can speak kindly and respectfully to each other.
I know I am blessed that they are alive, that they are here to challenge me to be a better parent, not only in light of this past weekend’s events but every day that God has graced me with their safe passage from morning until night. May they continue to work my last nerve for many years to come. May God bless and keep my children here with me, and the souls of the victims of Newtown close to him. May gratitude for what you have bring you peace and joy this holiday season.