Tuesday, December 18, 2012


So.  It's five days after a bunch of first-graders were murdered in Connecticut.  I want to blog about it because I can't imagining NOT blogging about it--talk about your elephants in the room--but I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say.

I really appreciated the post on mental illness and gun control at Rage Against the Minivan. (Kristen Howerton is a therapist and I think it shows.)  I read the post, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother."  I listened to my housekeeper say that she thinks teachers ought to carry guns, and to my friend Mack, who always travels with a gun or three in his pickup, say that he thought it was time to ban assault weapons.  I prayed for the victims at Mass on Sunday.

Mostly I thought WTF.

Can you remember yourself in first grade?  I had long hair I wore in two ponytails, one on each side.  After two years, I'd finally grown new front teeth (I'd lost my baby teeth early, falling off a swing).  I knew how to read, fluently, and was beyond disgusted with those beginning readers 'Dick and Jane' which I read completely in about a minute.  I adored my teacher, Mrs. Colvin, even though she wouldn't give me anything more interesting to read.

I was in a Brownie troop.  I had surgery to remove a tumor that turned out to be benign.  In the spring each grade studied a foreign country: first grade did Japan.  I learned how to sing a song about cherry trees, in Japanese.

Do you remember yourself at first grade?  Your children?  Mine were so small.  They were bold, and funny, and beautiful--they still are. 

There is no why for things like this.  WTF?

That's a question someone once asked Cheryl Strayed, when she was answering questions as advice columnist Sugar at the Rumpus internet magazine.   Nothing else, just "WTF?"  Strayed responded with a long, personal, and deeply moving essay, and then she wrote, "Ask better questions, sweetpea.  The f-- is your life.  Answer it."

This is our life, in a world where first graders die.  It's clear to me that we'll have to answer it, but I still don't know how.