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.
The crushing losses.
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? Goodness, no!”
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 today.
*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.