15 Miles From Home

Hey there - thanks for stopping in. I haven’t posted in quite some time, I know. I’m very aware of it. I had a post all set to go up last Friday when the shooting happened. It didn’t seem right to post it, and it still doesn’t feel right. Maybe it won’t ever feel right. How can I make light of my painting blunders when my heart is splintered?

I’ve stopped my normally scheduled programming to get some things off my mind. This may be my last post of the year. I’m not sure. I’m just not ready to move on, I suppose.

Disclaimer: The following is a “stream of consciousness” post to try to get a grip on some of the feelings that have been flying through my head and my heart of late, so feel free to close out or keep reading if you’re so inclined. Maybe you’ll be confused by what I write, and maybe - just maybe - it will help if you’re trying to wrangle your own thoughts and prayers as well. I’m writing this for the sole purpose of freeing my own thoughts and hurt, and if it helps one other person as well, it’ll be worth making it public.

It’s been a week, and I think I’m still in shock. I suppose many people still are. I cried while driving to work each day this week. I cried while driving home each night this week. I have waves of nausea once or twice a day and I’ve had a constant headache since that minute I heard the news. Ibuprofen isn’t helping. My heart is broken. My heart has been broken before - I know the feeling well, and this is it. Actual, palpable pain behind my ribs that hurts. Bad.

Every few minutes, the fact that this actually happened, 15 miles from home, creeps into my brain. This actually happened in a town not unlike our own. This actually happened in a town not unlike thousands of other good and honest towns across this nation.

We have so many strange and random connections to Newtown. Matt’s first internship was there. I bought my wedding dress there. Matt’s Aunt & Uncle just moved there. One of our favorite local restaurants is there. We don’t live in Newtown, but we have family and friends that do. We don’t know any of the families that lost children, but friends of ours do. We didn’t go to school with the shooter, but friends of ours did.

If I didn’t know the victims, why am I being affected in this way? Why is it the only thing I can think about each hour of each day? I didn’t react this way to any other school shootings. I went to Columbine High School in 2001 - two years after that school shooting. I saw the crosses - I felt the crosses. I saw the rebuilding efforts up close. Everything was so tangible and yet I didn’t feel this shattered.

Maybe my tears and my pain and my utter confusion can be chalked up to the passage of time, and as a result, the tangled web of emotion that is a human’s heart is more developed? Am I more susceptible to this hurt with my developed, adult heart and the very adult heartstrings to which it is attached?

Is the pain exacerbated by the fact that I work so intimately with a first grader each day? I know a first grader’s smile. I know a first grader’s fears. I know a first grader’s humor. I cannot begin to picture a first grader’s casket without shaking all over.

Maybe it is because of the sheer geographic proximity to our perfect, cozy, impenetrable nest of a home into which we hope to bring a child one day?

Is it because this horrific event happened so close to Christmas - a time of year famous for good deeds and joyful people?

Maybe because it happened to kids. KIDS. Innocents. And they were innocent. In every sense of the word.

In the end, though, I think it’s a combination of everything. The perfect storm of horror for so many.

I am trying to focus on the good. The intelligent discussions happening world-wide about how to prevent this from ever happening again. The support systems that the families have in place. The stories of survival and bravery and pure instinct that kept so many people safe from the wrath of pure evil. A phoenix rising.

I am comforted by the monstrous outpouring of love and support from all over. While I can’t tear my eyes away from the parent interviews or the stories of what the children loved most in their worlds, I also can’t stop reading about the generous acts of kindness people all over the world are contributing to the cause. The random acts of kindness. The candles. The light among so much infinite darkness. The concentrated revival of a small New England town that reminds us of our own.

Please. Never, ever, ever, ever let this happen again. Not to children or adults. Not in schools or in battle. Please let there be more peace in the world. If we can start in our own lives, on a very individual basis, I really believe it will grow and encompass everything rapidly and effectively. Call it optimism - call it what you will. But we need it more than ever. God save this world.

#Before & After