I didn't live this past weekend as much as pray to wake up.
I think many of us felt that way, after the nightmare of last Friday. How can we go on, with hearts shattered by sorrow? It is too much. It is pain beyond imagination, evil beyond description.
So we lament, and our souls don sackcloth and ashes and we seek respite in the sweet innocence of children.
That is how I cope, now that I'm a parent. Natalie was just 6 weeks old when evil tore into the Twin Towers, and life was forever marked by before and after. I cradled my newborn and kissed her head and I didn't put her down for days. My tears wet her hair, and I would occasionally look away from the TV and look down at her tiny body as she nursed, and she would be staring at me with her hazel eyes, a gaze of pure love and trust. And fear dissolved away, like snow in the rain.
It's always been that way. During the darkest days of our marriage, Connor was a newborn, Natalie a toddler. I sought refuge in their simple routines, in their laughter and innocence. And this past weekend, I found myself touching Teyla's curls more often, embracing Kieran's constant touch. I let the laughter of Natalie and Connor wash over me like a healing balm.
They know little of evil, these children of mine. We don't watch the news, and their lives are sheltered and safe, as it should be.
As it should be.
But Natalie, my oldest, she is 11 and in sixth grade. She has entered the in-between land where she is not yet adult, yet not quite child. I knew, last night, I had to tell her. Her teacher sent a note home Friday afternoon and said the entire school staff was broken with the news of the day, but they declined to tell the students themselves, believing that was a task better left to the parents.
I swayed on that cliff for three days. A large part of me wanted to keep Natalie's bubble of naivete. Life's malignancy will stain her soon enough, and Corey and I both know there is a trickle down effect in a group of siblings. By keeping Natalie blissfully unaware, we protect the collective.
But the deeper part of me knew this was the time. She is in sixth grade. Many of her classmates are the youngest in their families, exposed to so much more than she. I didn't want her to be the only one at prayer time this morning wondering what Miss Johnson was talking about.
So last night, in a brief moment alone as I cleaned up the kitchen, I looked her deep in the eyes and told her of Friday. Just the barest details, but enough. And I watched her face crumble with disbelief and then horror and then utter grief. Her eyes pooled with tears and she threw her head on the counter and started to weep.
I walked over and held her. And I wept too.
Eden is fouled.
It should not be.