When Michael finished up he went to check on Calvin. Over the monitor I heard his happy greeting to our boy who, I assume, was kneeling in bed, his head pushing up into the netting. “Heeeeeeyyyyy, Kid!” Michael exclaimed in his usual playful way, “why don’t you lay down and take your finger out of your eye?” I imagined my little goofball poking his eye in its corner as he often does when he gets tired or when the antiepileptic drugs cause him headaches, visual disturbances or both. “Where’s your football?” Michael asked him, then likely fished out Calvin’s orange plastic toy from somewhere under the covers. All the while, as I expanded and unwound under steaming liquid, I heard the happy rise and fall of Calvin’s coos, giggles and excited hyperventilation.
I hung my head and regarded my veiny feet, my toes, and the rivulets running between them; imaged the water as blood. As I listened to Calvin play, my thoughts and smile turned south, drifting to the parents and families of the children who’d been so senselessly gunned down—at point blank range—by a troubled young man in Friday’s Newton, Connecticut massacre. With all the shit we have to deal with, I thought—Calvin’s seizures, the drugs, the sleepless nights, his painfully protracted progression—it’s nothing compared to the vortex of grief these families must be facing. These families are living a brutal silence, void of the buoyant patter of feet scampering around the kitchen, void of the cheerful din of forks poking through stacks of steaming pancakes, void of the sweet small voices emerging from excited little beings. These parents’ eyes will no longer feast on yawning imps rubbing sleepy eyes, their hands will never again tussle small heads, they’ll never feel the sublime weight of tired bodies in their arms, never feel smooth, warm bellies, kiss supple cheeks, pat the pajama’d bottoms of their innocents.
I say no piercing arrow, no knife, no stone thrown hard and fast could have caused such bloodshed—only guns. No weapon could have so easily inflicted such nonsensical pain and suffering on a child, a parent, a school, a community, a world—only guns—guns that shoot rapid-fire and rip through a crowd in minutes leaving no time to breathe and ask why?
The dreaded news was smothering, punched the breath right out of my lungs like a bullet to the chest. I want to take away their pain. I want to take away those minutes, that grief, that news. I want to take away those guns ... those miserable, wretched, needless, dreaded guns that—unfathomable to me—certain, perhaps impotent, individuals insist on making available to feel as though they are somehow free.
|Flowers and stuffed animals of a makeshift memorial for school shooting victims encircle the flagpole at the town center Saturday in Newtown, Conn. Most of the shooting victims were very young. (Associated Press)|