I was on the phone with Growler this morning, babbling away in my bubbly way, in the midst of my morning rounds of phone calls to the inner circle. I checked my Facebook feed quickly.
"Oh my god!" I gasped suddenly.
"What?" Growler asked. Her tone shifted as she heard the dread in my voice.
Another friend had posted the first link to the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I couldn't talk. I was just horrified.
I read the first article but couldn't look anymore until very late in the afternoon, when I accidentally turned on network news. Chris Cuomo was recounting the morning's events and talking to various people about what it meant and how it might have come to pass and how the victims and their families might be feeling this evening.
I can't even imagine. Like, really, I can't, or I will lose my fucking mind.
When my elder son was born in 2001, I realized pretty quickly that maternal instinct was just a fancy, convoluted term for paranoia. I really had become that way when I was pregnant with him and some horrific news story about a pregnant being murdered garnered national attention. At that point, my obstetrician ordered DH to stop people from telling me bad things. My blood pressure was spiking, and my stress level was insane. I just quit watching the news.
About the time I started again, a few weeks into a mild anti-depressant, my baby was a few months old. It was September of 2001.
After seeing the initial news report this morning, I talked to Tiff for the second and third and fourth time today.
"I don't get it," she said. "I just don't understand how someone could kill little kids."
I don't think anyone does. There will be speculation and reports and anecdotes over the next few days and weeks about how Adam Lanza, the presumed shooter, was damaged or abused or neglected or misparented. Maybe, as Tiff suggested, he was just broken from the beginning.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to be his mother—who was, unfortunately, one of his victims today. It doesn't have to be him, per se; I could just as not-so-easily step into the imagined thoughts and emotions of the mother of Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold or Kip Kinkel or Jeff Weise or Timothy McVeigh or any of the other infamous figures who have viciously destroyed the lives of innocents.
I tried to envision how I would feel if one of my children committed such heinous acts. I can't.
If I try to go there, my mind and heart and soul throw up a wall, a huge, clanging shield to stop those thoughts from crossing the mind-brain barrier. It doesn't want there to even be a memory of my having tried to go to that place. It's like Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserit witches trying to take themselves to the place where only the Kwitsatz Haderach can go, finding sheer terror and abject fear at the mere thought of such an attempt.
Love for your child is truly unconditional. There is absolutely nothing my sons could to do make me not love them. I remind them all the time that I will love them forever and always and no matter what.
"Even if I killed someone?" my elder son asked one day.
"Even if you killed someone. I wouldn't like it at all, but I would still love you."
"Even if I killed my little brother?"
He wasn't asking if he could or offering to do it. It was just a question of curiosity, the next seemingly logical step down this path of discussion.
Clang! Up came that wall.
And I tried, just now, to type that such thoughts were the worst things I could imagine. I know they're not. Logically, I know there are worse things I could imagine. But to do that would be an exercise in driving myself insane—possibly for real and forever.
Does it matter what went wrong with this kid in Connecticut? I don't know. It doesn't change a damn thing. Maybe it helps victims and their families to try to understand. But no matter what went wrong in his life, it's only a potential reason or explanation—it's not an excuse.
Regardless, it makes me incomparably sad. Not only do the families of these babies have to deal with their loss, the families of the survivors have their own heartache and trauma to endure. And then there is the Lanza family, who has to try to make sense of this tragedy from the other side. It seems an unendurable torture, no matter which side of this you're on.
Feel free to comment. I will not engage arguments or ridicule or But you're just wrong! rants. I don't care if you think guns should be outlawed or should be given to every citizen when they turn 18. I won't respond. But if you start to tell me how it's God's will, or how it's punishment against an evil society, I will block you from my life and I will probably have a moment where I wish bad things upon you, followed immediately by a moment of being so aghast at my own loss of control that I am shamed by own sorrowful thoughts.
And for the dozenth time, I will cry. For you, for me, and for all of those whose lives will be forever altered by the incomprehensible acts of someone else's child.