(Goo, waiting for The Little Girls at the bus stop.)
Listen: I've wanted to write about this for a while now I just haven't been able to find the words (I still can't so hang in there while I try). In a few days this country will mark the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. I can't imagine the hell this last year has been for the families who lost their Littles and loved ones that tragic day. With the exception of victims follow up stories and the most recent debate about the public release of the 911 tapes, the nation has moved on (likely wondering what a Kardashian ate for dinner or wore pumping gas). For the families of the children and adults who died that day, the pain, despair and horror wasn't limited to that specific day: it deepened with every benchmark, every "1st" they were without their precious person, every empty day that passed. I know a fraction of what that first year without your person feels like, and every day after that too. It is a knife-in-your-stomach-every-time-you-wake-up-and-reality-sets-in, a scrape-yourself-off-the-bathroom-floor, a force-yourself-to-carry-on-with-life, a question-any-filament-of-faith-you-have-left kind of life you find yourself living. And people outside of that immediate pain remember the anniversary but I tell you, it is not the anniversary that is the stab in the heart [sure the anniversary reminds you of how life changes so quickly and the initial pain (which is different from the agony afterwards) of your discovery], the stab in the heart is every minute your person isn't there to share life with.
I didn't know about the shootings at Sandy Hook until much later that day. I didn't watch any news coverage or actively seek any further details. That is not to say I wasn't informed as it was impossible to not hear something about what happened. Like most people, I was deeply affected. Moments after I learned what happened I put Ivy and Goo in the car and drove directly to Savannah's school, sat in the back of her classroom and cried. I wasn't the only one, two other parents had come to do the exact same thing.
Up until now I've only shared this with Angela, but for months I had anxiety about leaving Savannah at school. There were days I would pick her up early just to hold her and keep her close. It felt dangerous and scary to send my precious Little to school and out of my care. The thing is, her school was safe and the administration beefed up the drills, any trespassers were taken away by police escort, all visitors had to sign in the office, round the clock surveillance, etc. But still the worry and anxiety were constant companions.
One day while waiting on my car at the mechanic's, I picked up a magazine on a nearby table. I read a follow-up article interviewing victim's of Sandy Hook families. These photos... they just, well, they speak volumes about life after loss. I left as soon as able, drove to the school and signed Savannah out for the day.
Today this anxiety crept in. Perhaps tragically loosing my mom has kept me scared and vigilant about the unlikely (yet possible) event of it happening again and knowing what a nightmare despair is. My greatest fear, like all parents, is loosing a child. Knowing that would be infinitely worse than loosing a parent is unfathomable and dark. The fear haunts me. I forced myself not to pick up The Little Girls early from school today, but I'll tell you what: I didn't breath easy until they stepped off that bus.