Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today ... Evil ... and Opportunity

It's been an interesting day.

Nicolas refused to get up when his older brother woke (unheard of) and slept until almost 9 a.m.

At 11 a.m. a call from the school that Lucas was in the office, fever of 101, upset stomach.

Given the fact that Nicolas hadn't perked up all morning, I quickly called him in sick for afternoon preschool. I wasn't sure where the day was headed, but he was certainly droopy and in no condition to go to school.

When I arrived at the school, Lucas was getting sick in the nurse's garbage can. All shaky and weak, he barely acknowledged I was there. I wanted to just scoop him up and carry him out.

No one ate lunch (well, except for Analise ... the one everyone was sure was dying of croup Monday. Nope. She's fine. So fine she's refusing to nap. Awesome.)

I could see the sick in Lucas' eyes as he lay on the couch trying to stay awake. The kid who usually has so many words - silent. All the energy I usually spend just trying to keep up with him, ahead of him, respond to him, turned back on me as I felt every ounce of his distress....gave me time to feel empathy for my child ... wanting to scoop him up, take his pain away.

We all rested for the afternoon. (Again, except Analise. She's discovered the light switch in her room and takes great joy in dragging her tiny chair over to it, turning it on and wrecking havoc. At one point this afternoon she had the little cube shelves we have her toys in completely disassembled. HOW? Yep. Think she's feeling fine. I was in there, what?, three times. The third time I lay in her bed trying to get her to settle down. She proceeded to climb all over me and tickle my feet. Aye.)

Then everybody is up. Nicolas has gained some sort of super-human energy and is psyched for ... you guessed it, CRAFTS!

Lucas seems to think he can handle sitting at the table and smashing up tiny pieces of tissue paper to make these creations with Nicolas. Halfway into the craft Lucas is lying on the couch. Nicolas is happily smashing tissue paper and applying it to the sticky surface of his butterfly.

Analise is ... quiet. Wait, she is taking off all the lids of the markers. AWESOME. Now she's spreading glue stick all over her piece of construction paper. She does not intend to stick anything to it. Thank you for making glue sticks purple. Now my daughter thinks they are crayons. Yippee!

I drift over to my phone and check in on my friends. Wonder what everyone else is doing this fine Friday?

And there it was. From 12:30 p.m. CT. "BREAKING: Official with knowledge of Conn. school shooting: 27 dead, including 18 children."

While I napped in happy ignorance, hearts were breaking. While I try to fill in the blanks, catch the details, life moves on.

"Mommy I need ..."

"MOOOOMYYYYEEEE, Analise is ....."

"MommMYIE, can I ....."

And I want to know. I want to understand who and how and why and try to convince my grieving mind that there was something about this place, this time, that paved the way for THIS.

And the more I try to find out, the more they need me.

The more urgent the demands become.

Hunched over the counter, reading the tiny screen.

Parents will never see their children again.

And mine are calling out for me.

We made it until Daddy got home.

And dinner.

And books.

And bed.

Then Daddy and I succumb to the usual routine and watched TV while I wrapped presents.

Gifts of love to give these people who are HERE.

And now, in the quiet of the night, I catch up. I read the words on the screen and hope to understand.

But in the same way we cannot understand incomprehensible, unconditional love, we cannot understand the evil that permeates our earthly existence. And when I say evil, I am not pointing my finger at the man who shot those innocent children.

To me, that is the most gut-wrenching part of the story ... of any tragic story.

People don't just walk into schools and shoot babies.

People don't just sexually abuse children.

People don't just mentally and verbally abuse children.

Somewhere along the line something happened.

Something broke that person so badly that THIS seems like a reasonable response.

Tragedy is never one sided ... and that is so hard for me to type.

I guarantee there was no deterring this crime.

Death penalty? He planned to commit suicide.

This was about pain.

This was about a kind of pain I cannot comprehend.

So as we talk about retribution and prevention ... it can't just be about punishment and locking doors.

(I hate to tell ya'll this, but some of those scary people are INSIDE the building! We need access to what is happening in our kids' classrooms.)

The thing is, bad things happen to people.

And people get hurt, badly.

And if in that pain, they never experience the power of unconditional love, evil seems like the only power.

But it isn't.

And that is the opportunity we have before us.

Do we succumb to evil and point fingers, lay blame and call for retribution.

Or do we embrace this sick, sad reality of the human condition and vow to carry on. Do we vow to love, even those hardest to love. To reach out, even to those who seem least worthy.

Therein lies the opportunity to rob evil of its power. Forever.