My son has been sick, and as I write this on Friday night, he is still ill. He will come out of it, but right now he is only too happy to snuggle up to my neck and spread himself across my chest. Thursday started that way at five in the morning. He awoke with a fever and was clearly not going back to bed. I took him downstairs and gave him medicine. I then reclined on the couch and waited through the hours as he snorted and snuffled and wiggled and grunted. I knew this would make for a very long solo parenting day, and I knew my reserves were already tapped through lack of sleep and my own cold I was not fighting off too well. But it was in that moment, too, that I knew the incredible joy of souls touching. Love is an overused word, but it is the only word that defines what I felt for my son in that moment.
As a teacher, I see this connection over and over in the relationships between parents and children, and I build an echo of this connection with my students as well. Once they are long gone, in college and even grown with their own kids, they are still the child whose cuts I covered with a band-aid and whose tears kept me up at night.
From both perspectives, the tragedy in Connecticut is unprocessable. It is understandable, it is thinkable, it is unfortunately too commonplace in our society with no signs of any real will to take actions to address the mental health and gun access issues that underpin these too frequent tragedies. But it is unprocessable. I just can’t put my mind, consciously, into a place where it makes sense of an elementary school shooting. So it will pervade my unconscious while I hold my children close.