At first, I worried that something could happen to me, and I'd leave my children, already once parentless, motherless again. Perhaps that is narcissistic of me. But I remember joking the first time Jason and I took a trip together, without the children, that perhaps we should take separate flights.
Then I also worried that I would lose one of them. And not just in that moment-of-panic-because-my-2-year-old-just-ran-into-the-middle-of-the-street fear. That (fortunately) is just a passing fear (at least it was for me). But I remember driving down the freeway on my way to work one day before Tate underwent his cleft palate surgery, as I passed the hospital where he would be treated and worrying about how I would cope if something went wrong during that surgery. That was a selfish fear, I suppose. And of course Tate is fine.
But now, here I sit at the computer, my children are safely playing games and watching TV in the other room while noodles for Kraft Mac n Cheese boil on the stove, and I'm reminded of my parental fear again. I'm not even sure if my children know what happened in Connecticut today. I don't want to tell them if they don't. There's no need for them to be afraid to go to school.
I know that I am very lucky. I can anticipate a holiday season filled with smiles and happy memories. And I can only imagine the emptiness and shock that families living through the Connecticut tragedy must feel. This should be a time for hope, not horror. A time for giving instead of grieving. A time for sharing, not taking from others. I certainly didn't need a reminder of how lucky I am. I know it. I believe it every day.
I know what happened can't be ignored. Our school district-- completely across the country and about as far away from Connecticut you can get while staying in the 48 contiguous states-- sent out a statement about school safety and the availability of crisis counselors for children in the district. But I think the best advice I've seen as a parent was this quotation by Mr. Rogers (it's been posted in several places):
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
I can't stop bad things from happening. But I can choose to focus on the good in humanity in spite of the bad things. And that's a good lesson for me to remember.