A Suburban Soliloquy

School should be a safe place to learn and grow.

School should be a safe place to learn and grow.  Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Mama photos.

I feel so lucky that my kids had runny noses, that they almost forgot their lunches and whined about the weather.  There are 20 families in Connecticut this morning that didn’t get so lucky.  Two of them had funerals instead.  Today I was fortunate enough to have the day off and go to my favorite yoga class.  As tears and sweat mingled in salty reverie, I was inspired to write even though most of my weekend was spent in a state of autopilot, despair and hibernation.

Like so many of you, I watched the coverage of the shootings with disbelief.  And like many of you, I resisted the urge to run to the school to pick up my kids.  Dropping off my kids at school today, I felt more than fear.  I felt dread.  You see, dread is what you feel when something happens suddenly without warning and when that same thing is something you have absolutely no control over.  Our brains tend to overestimate danger from such causes (think plane crashes, mass murderers etc.)  The threat is bigger than our comprehension, so our fears multiply.  Breathe, friends.  It’s rare.

And then I am reminded of my recent brush with guns and am suddenly aware of how close to home this type of tragedy can be.  When we feel out of control, we want to fix the problem, rage against the NRA and demand better mental health care for our citizens.  I hear you.  But can we slow down?  Can we let these families grieve first?  Can we first just be uncomfortable?  It doesn’t feel good to be uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s necessary.

There are other things I can do to help my community.  Nothing radical, nothing controversial.  They might include:

  • do some bell ringing for the Salvation Army.
  • hug a kid with Asperger’s (asking permission first of course, they tend not to like it.  On second thought, play a computer game with them)
  • adopt a family for Christmas.
  • put one of the toys you bought for your kid in a donation box.
  • pray, breathe, dedicate, devote, sing, offer, create
  • make a gingerbread house with your kid
  • write a note to someone you love
  • etc etc etc…………..

This kind of loving energy is as essential as air to all of us as we go about the business of preparing for the holidays, all the while knowing that other families are not as privileged.  While I am dedicating these small actions to the families who have survived immeasurable loss, I am not wishing them “comfort”.  I am wishing them the time to reflect and grieve, space from nosy reporters, the ability to treat themselves to loving kindness, a hope that one day the holidays won’t be synonymous with sadness and the strength to be there for the living.

But mostly I wish them a purpose, a divine strength that guides them into action.  Not now, one day, when agony gives way to ache, may they have the will to tell a story.  One whose ending is not yet written.

In the meantime, the suburbs witnessed an evil act.  But the suburbs are not the problem.  We, in fact, are the solution.

What will you do?

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5 comments on “A Suburban Soliloquy

  1. Barbara Paulsen says:

    Well said, Jeanne xo

  2. Mommy D. says:

    Nice job, Jeanne. I fear for the mental health of the children who survived, the parents of those who did not and for every parent of a child/adult who suffers from a mental health issue –

  3. Mari Stephenson says:

    Nice thoughtful post. Insanity cannot be controlled…..but it is rare. I told the young fathers in my office who were horrified by these events that the best thing they could do to protect their children is to NOT teach them, BY EXAMPLE , to talk, text, read maps, or be on their cell phones in any capacity whatsoever while driving a car. Our children will do what we do….but they won’t have years of driving experience to help cover their mistakes.
    The stats are clear…..a car is a much more likely to kill you than anything else you encounter.

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