On Friday night, my youngest asked if she could sleep on the
floor next to my bed. She was fighting the flu her older sister had passed
down. I fluffed up down comforters and soft, thick blankets, layering her
bedding. I piled pillows high so her cough wouldn’t bother her throat too
much. I checked to make sure she was
surrounded by tissues, a water bottle, and her favorite stuffed animals. We
prayed. Then I asked what book she wanted me to read.
Her older sister had thought of her and had taken out a book
from the school library earlier that day.
This is the book my kindergartener asked me to read.
Enter the moment.
Though my eyes sting, I open the colorful pages and begin to
read, my voice quivery, my heart a ragged, suffering thing inside my chest.
“Here comes Pete
strolling down the street, rocking red shoes on his four furry feet. Pete is
going to school, and he sings this song…”
Sandy Hook. 20 children dead. 6 adults. My home state.
Another school shooting branding permanent images in my brain, my soul.
Pages later my voice catches but I continue to read.
“Pete has never been
to the library before! Does Pete worry? Goodness, no! He finds his favorite
book and sings his song…”
I kiss my daughter’s feverish head. She knows little, next
to nothing about what media networks will be highlighting for weeks.
Then I get to this…
“Pete and his friends
are playing outside on a green, grassy field with swings and tall slides. Where
is Pete? The playground! Kids are running in every direction! Does Pete worry?
I sniffle and hold the flood of emotions I’m feeling at bay
concerned I’ve already let her see me cry enough for one day.
I make it through to the end of the book.
“When school is done,
Pete rides the bus home.”
I’m slammed with the memory of rushing earlier in the day to
embrace my older two girls as they bounded off the bus.
“Pete’s mom asks him,
‘What did you do at school today?’ And Pete says… ‘I was rocking in my school
shoes…And I will do it again tomorrow! Because it’s all good!’”
My resolve crumbles into a thousand pieces because it so
isn’t all good. This world is nothing as it will be.
I tuck the covers up to my daughter’s neck, then I collapse
over her wishing I could be a barrier, shielding her from everything out there.
We’d already encountered a glimpse of how unsafe this world can be in another
form earlier in the year. Now this…
I want her to rock in her school shoes.
I crave heaven.
I turn off the light and thank God for Christmas.
I thank God hope came to earth as a baby. And still lives
*My email has been
down for days. I apologize if you’ve been trying to reach me and you haven’t
heard back. The system seems like it’s almost fully restored.
**I will be
posting this Friday.