there are no words.
but all you have are your words
when tragedy strikes – even if it’s not close to home –
it still strikes
and you feel it like the burning brand
of a searing hot poker:
iron on flesh.
because for five aching long seconds
you live in the “what if” –
imagine how it would be
if it was you on that crowded, terrible, freezing street
packed full of terrified, unknowing humanity
all surging forward; desperate with hope
that yours will be one of the ones running out safe and sound.
imagine how it would be if they weren’t.
and someone all solemn and in blue
came looking for you –
official; draped with sorrow
like spanish moss drifting off the trees above the bayous.
imagine breath not coming;
hearing a keening howl –
not realizing it’s your own.
seeing that last bit of cereal left in the bottom of the bowl from breakfast and thinking –
that’s the last time.
how do you not cry out?
how do you not rage in agony?
how do you not fling helplessness
wild into the wind
and demand change – any change – now, now, now.
where do you turn
in grief and in sorrow
whether our own – or on borrowed time?
who can comfort the heart that has lost
the one thing that it could not bear to lose?
i know the things i thought were driving me mad:
wasted toothpaste and shampoo, lost pictures, and ripped jeans
do not seem as significant as they did
just twenty four hours
it’s not that i’m giving up on giving the best,
and raising the best,
and expecting the best.
i’m just being reminded – in the hardest kind of way
about delicacy, and transiency, and fragility.
thinking long and hard about
holding tight; holding on
breathing deep when i see her.
inhaling the gift of grace and
another chance to get it right.
tears come. and they should. they keep coming.
i don’t want to not feel; don’t want to forget;
don’t want to lose sight of what i cannot bear to lose.
yet in the midst, don’t want to forget either
what and where my hope is anchored:
that still, small place – that voice in the silence – that cleft in the rock
(not in the thunder, not in the mighty wind, not in the shaking of the earth)
Jehovah Sabaoth be near now
hold us, and hold those we cannot,
when our hearts break as one.
I don't know that a school shooting has impacted me like the one today has. Perhaps its because now I'm a mom and the parental gene kicks in with empathy so strong. Maybe its that our school was in lockdown earlier this week while the police chased a robery suspect - when we got the call, there was a flutter of fear when I heard "lockdown." I've spent the day watching the news, watching the posts, watching - between trying to do my job. And crying. And wondering about my tears. And this is what I do to try and make sense of it all. I write.