Joan Didion describes grief as choking and its true. It lodges in your throat – chest aching, mouth pulled down. Some hours it’s numbing and others so terrifyingly painful, you don’t think you’ll live through it.
It’s hard for any of us to think too deeply about what happened in Newtown this week because we simply couldn’t function. To the families in pain, it must feel unreal that the world will continue to spin, that people will continue with their daily habits, that Christmas will be happily celebrated by most. It seems only fair that these parents should be able to wear a badge that reads “I just lost my child, he was taken from me violently” so that all of us circling around daily life can stop and live their pain with them. I imagine, no, I know that there is bargaining going on right now, “One more hug, if I can have one more hug.” Or “Can you bring her back? I’ll do anything.” Because life without your child is unimaginable. And the pain in thinking of and trying NOT to think of their final moments unbearable.
We cannot take away these families’ pain. They have lost the most precious of all. But we can live in their honor. Tragedy reminds us to be present for those we love. It teaches us to be patient and kind and take the time to show others that we care. It pushes us to live to a higher standard and to put our family first. That’s the legacy of 26 souls in Newtown.