Four years ago today, 20 children and six teachers were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I don’t know any parent who didn’t immediately put themselves in those parents’ shoes: It could have been my child. This could have happened anywhere. Those poor people. How will they get by?
I thought about it yesterday as I walked into my son’s school for a conference. The door was unlocked, and I walked right into a scene of total normalcy: Kids playing, walking to class, scrambling around the gym, upending the lost-and-found bin in search of stray gloves. There was a poster plastered to one of the walls: “You Belong Here.” Their innocence was bittersweet in its reassuring vulnerability.
And I thought about it this morning, when my Facebook newsfeed was filled with reminders honoring that day.
My son is 6, the same age as many of those kids. And he’ll go off to school this morning, a morning like any other, on an act of faith. I’ll hurry him into his hat and coat, remind him to grab his backpack, yell at him for not finishing his breakfast, and let him go. I assume he’ll come back because I have to assume that he’ll come back, because kids who go off to school come back. How else can we operate in this world, without some level of basic trust and hope?
This isn’t something I need to discuss with my son. But today, I’ll also quietly try to do a few things differently when I’m with him.
I’ll hug him a little bit tighter when he leaves for school.
When he comes home, I’ll stop and listen to him just a little bit longer, instead of letting him immediately disappear into his playroom with an iPad and a snack right away.
We’ll eat dinner together, as a family, for more than 10 minutes.
I’ll tell him an extra-long bedtime story.
And most of all, I’ll pause to be grateful. Because I know that I’m fortunate, right now. But the universe is random. “Right now” is all we have, and today is a sharp reminder of that.
This morning, after reading about Sandy Hook, I thought about lines from the William Blake poem “Auguries of Innocence”:
And Eternity in an hour