December 15, 2012

Dear Jack

Dear Jack,

Both your dad and I dropped you off at school yesterday morning.  We had anniversary plans to go Christmas shopping for the day and your brother and sister were with a babysitter, so it was just the three of us.  I hugged you and told you that I love as you hopped out of the car. I heard you yell something about "you too" as you jumped out of the car, gave your principal a high five and disappeared into the school.

Dad and I shopped for a while and stopped for lunch at Chipotle.  I sat down while your dad ordered, because I haven't been feeling well this week and was a little dizzy.  While I waited, I pulled out my phone and quickly scanned facebook.  I froze on a post from our local news station . . . something about a shooting. 

At an elementary school. In a Kindergarten classroom.

I went to a news website and sat in Chipotle and cried as I read your Dad the news stories about what was going on in Newtown, Connecticut.

I spent the rest of the day with red blotchy eyes as I put myself into the shoes of those parents over and over.  I thought about what it might be like to know that watching you disappear into school was the last time I'd ever see you. I fought the urge to race to your school and pick you up. I thought about how horrifying it would be to get the news that something like this had happened at your school.  In your Kindergarten classroom.  I thought, too, about your Aunt Karina and what it was like for those educators' families.

Last night, your dad and I cried as we imagined what it would be like to go through what those people were going through last night.  The empty bed.  The siblings who just couldn't understand.  Thinking about how terrified their children must have been.  The process of identification.  There are few times when I've been as sad as I am right now.  Just thinking about those parents' pain is crippling . . . it's unfathomable to think about what they're experiencing. My heart aches for them.

I hope that it will be many, many years before you hear anything about this tragedy.  I can't help but wonder, though, if when you do hear about it, you'll think back to this time that you'll remember how we hugged you and your siblings every 10 minutes and told you that we love you so much that you now roll your eyes every time we say it.

This morning, you asked why I won't stop hugging you.  It's not that we love you more now than we did yesterday.  We've just been reminded how quickly it can all be taken away.  We're not guaranteed another year, day or minute with you.  I will not take that for granted.


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