I sat down for coffee and tried to feed my son while reading the news ... the miserable, dreaded news. After breakfast we put Calvin into his bed, raised its safety panel and secured the netted canopy so Michael and I could take our showers. In the bathroom we turned up the baby monitor so we could hear him as we soaked our tired selves under hot water.

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)


  1. Love this image of Michael with Calvin! You both seem like such good parents. The mornings in my family often started with my wry humor when I was having more seizures than I am now.
    "Good morning Julianna! How'd you sleep!"
    "Wonderfully--seizures through the night. I feel grand going into my exams."
    "How many seizure did you have?"
    "7? 8? I lost track after the one that caused me to crash the Mars Rover I was driving."
    I'm sure I was obnoxious as hell sometimes as a teen-ager. I hope only after seizures, though...

  2. I know. We can write about these things incessantly; we can post on Facebook and argue until we're blue in the face, and it just seems hopeless today, these days following such a thing. A good friend of mine had two children there, both alive, but who the hell will take away the trauma of that day?

  3. the faces of the surviving children are haunting. i am so sorry for your friend and her kids. xooxoxoxox

  4. we weep. We protest the guns. We wish for good mental health. We yearn for peaceful days. We join the fight for solutions: Ban the assault weapon. Decrease unnecessary defense spending. Fund health care and research. Fund education. Make our country what it might be....I pray.