On Friday, December 14, 2012, I heard about the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut because I got a text alert on my iPhone from the NY Times. I didn't stop and read anything because I was busy with Jules at that point.
Later, he went down for a nap, and then I turned on the TV.
I knew I wanted to stay away from the local news shows, so I looked to cable. I didn't want to watch CNN, so I settled on MSNB. I watched a little, to get a feeling for what had happened. It was Martin Bashir's show, and I watched until I saw that he was showing clips of someone interviewing one of little kids who had survived. My stomach turned, and then I turned it off and went to take a shower.
I don't like Martin Bashir that much, but I didn't think I could take Anderson Cooper's sometimes sort of blank personality, or Wolf Blitzer, either.
In the shower, I thought KPCC might have more respectful and better coverage, and I remembered that it was time for Larry Mantle's show, so my hopes were high. I heard them (I think before Larry came on I heard NPR's news) giving details about what happened, many of which, I found out later, were wrong. I guess you can't blame them: that stuff came from somewhere, and people want to know, and there's not a lot of time to verify things. Then, unfortunately, Larry chose to interview one of the teachers, who seemed obviously still incredibly shaken.
At that point I turned off the radio and cried in the shower.
Larry is always very tactful and sounds like a caring man, and I have a lot of respect for how I've heard him handle issues on the radio in the past, but I was sad to hear him talking to this woman, who should never have agreed to be interviewed.
I don't believe in my "right to know" everything as it happens. I know we have freedom of the press, and all that, but it's sad, all the incorrect information that floated about right after this happened. The damage that can be done just by misidentifying the shooter, or his connection to the victims, or his mental state, or his psychological profile. I don't want to hear anybody's hypothesis on how this happened. It's not the time to play, to guess, to make shit up. This was not a hurricane or an earthquake. This was, it is, 20 little girls and boys, dead.
As days have passed, it's gotten even harder for me. I don't know what that says about me. I'm avoiding my usual habit of reading the paper because I saw that the NY Times was posting photographs of the victims - the beautiful little kids - on the front page. I opened up the LA Times this morning (looking for some local news) and the words that jumped out at me were "tiny coffins." I gave up on the local news.
It seems like every other story on KPCC in the past few days has been about this, and I just can't handle it. They keep talking now about the funerals, and giving details about the individual children. I know that each and every one of those kids, those babies, were precious: I don't want to know their names. Not yet.
It's heartbreaking and unimaginable, what happened. I can't believe it, I don't understand it. Who could? It's made me think about the world in the past almost 2 years since I had my own boy. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Sandusky business, this. I've been thinking about him in school, with those people we trust to keep him safe. I've been thinking about how we put him in his car seat and drive around, trusting that a drunk driver won't rear end me on the freeway. I mean, this might sound stupid, but we live near the Long Beach airport. Small planes fly over my house all the time, sometimes even jets. It's happened, that planes crash on neighborhoods. It happened near by, in Cerritos.
There are things that you can control, and things you can't, and I'm just having a hard time understanding how to protect him, how to handle this in a way that makes sense. I'm trying to think, and not to think. My mother would say, it's time to pray. Maybe it is.
And I've been thinking about the parents and the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The staff, the little kids who had to walk out of school, and were told to close their eyes, so they wouldn't see the carnage. The parents who had to sit around and wait to find out if their child was OK. The way I heard the police chief describe the "catastrophic" wounds of the children. The way the police chief said, "If you haven't been reunited with your child yet, you won't be." That's what makes me cry. This much I heard on Friday, when I was listening to KPCC.
On Sunday, my mom was watching the church vigil, and waiting to hear our President speak. I, luckily, had planned a trip to Target, and so missed it all. When I got back it was dinner time.
I know that I have to face it eventually. I mean, I'm lucky. Imagine those poor parents, the families with huge holes in them, they have to deal with it now. There's no hiding from it for them. I've been distracting myself with music, with silly Stewart Copeland-related fantasy. After the tsunami in Japan, after a few weeks had gone by, I went back and read about it, sucked up a lot of detail. I watched videos and looked at maps. It took me a while to process everything, but eventually, I did tried to understand it a little better. But that's a weather event. It's not the same.
And now, what can we do? I have no idea. The world is a random place, where just about anything can happen. For someone to be so disturbed, so incomprehensibly violent and cruel: I don't understand how this happens. I'm not ready to find out about him, the shooter. I'm glad he's dead. I guess people will try to figure him out, and I guess that's a good thing, but I don't want to know, just yet.
I'm also thinking about gun laws, and what kind of place this country is, politically. Congress allowed the ban on assault weapons to lapse, and I have to read more about that, because my first thought was, what the fuck? How does stuff like that happen? These people are supposed to protect us, to understand these issues better than I do: but who, what kind of person thinks that we have the right to assault weapons? Me? A normal person? Someone mentally unbalanced? A thug? It's just craziness.
And then I got an email from my friend Hollie Butler. Instead of feeling frozen, or hopeless, Hollie is making an effort to reach out to the kids of Sandy Hook. Hollie has set up a fund to buy each child at Sandy Hook Elementary School a teddy bear.
Look, I'll admit it: my first thought was, "what good will teddy bears from strangers do those children?" And I do keep thinking about that. But it's like saying, what good will more gun laws do?
Who knows? But it's something. We can do something.
You can help buy a bear for every child at Sandy Hook Elementary School.