When the news hit that an elementary school had been the target of a horrible shooting I had just arrived to work.
Only one hour earlier I was at my daughter's elementary school with a huge basket of homemade cookies to pass around so that the class could celebrate my sweet girl's birthday.
A room of 5th graders in pajamas. Their teacher decided that because it was the last day of school before holiday break everyone could come to school in pajamas. So, there they were. Beautiful, smart, joyful, giggling 10 and 11 year old's singing happy birthday to my daughter... their classmate.
And 3,000 miles away a nightmare was unfolding in another elementary school.
I still can't quite comprehend what has occurred. And I am certain I will never know what those families are going through. Never.
My heart aches for that town, for the mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, friends.
Over the years this column has often been about my daughter. My love for my daughter. My experience of motherhood. My feelings of wonder, joy, humor, excitement and, yes, fear, pain, sadness.
Perhaps the only thing as strong as the love I have for my daughter is the desire to protect her. Protect her from illness, trauma, hurt, loss of innocence... evil.
And so I think of those families. Parents, just like me, who have protected their children the best they know how. Sending them to school like any other day. Clothed, lunches in their hands, kisses. Possibly cookies to pass around for a birthday.
It could have been yours... it could have been mine... it could have been anywhere.
It is so unfair that those children and those families should be robbed of their life, their dreams, their right to live and grow.
Robbed of seeing their children learn to read, graduate, fall in love, find a calling. Robbed of their right to see their children...
I don't let my daughter watch the news or browse the Internet. However, I know some of her friends do and I didn't want her to hear about this nightmare event from anyone but me. So, still in her pajama's from school, driving home I decided to speak.
Baby, something happened today. Something really, really horrible.
I told her in the simplest way, sparing all details. Yet, even with no information other than a very sick person shot people at a school, her eyes widened, tears fell, and when I asked her what she was feeling she finally said,
Do you wish I hadn't told you?
I wish so too. But other people might talk about it and I didn't want you to hear it some other way.
We spoke for a long time and she cried for a long time. And as I reassured her that she was safe and that the world is full of more good than bad, more beauty than ugly, more joy than sadness, we fell asleep with blankets and stuffed animals and a Christmas tree lighting the room.
I get to be with my daughter today. I get to kiss her and love her and get impatient with her and laugh with her and feed her and bathe her and listen to her voice as she tells me everything and anything she wants.
But 3,000 miles away 20 mothers and 20 fathers don't.
There are no words.