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first school day (what i will not ask of the Newtown parents)

I will not ask you to be ennobled by your grief.  I will not ask you to be anything but brought low by it.  I will not expect you to rise up, stronger than before.

I will not hand you a tissue.  I will not be afraid of your tears or your snot.  I will not ask you to hide them from me.

I will not, ever, ask you “how are you?” unless I want a real and true answer, and expect that real and true answer to be something like “fucked up, beyond fucked up” for a long, long time.

I will not expect you to behave well.  I will expect you to use whatever coping mechanisms you need to get through tomorrow.  I will not ask for those mechanisms to look pretty.

I will not ask you to choose love instead of hate.  Not right now.  I will not expect you to forgive me for my undeserved luck in having dropped my own six-year-old off for school this wretched Monday morning.

I will not expect you to be able to have tea with me, to accept my sympathies, to meet my eyes.  I will not ask you to pretend we live in the same universe.

I will not ask you to make me feel comfortable.  I will not expect you to drive safely.  I will not ask you how the dents got in your car, or why the headlight is smashed.

I will not ask you to wait even one day before you get that tattoo.  I will not ask you to think about it.  I will not expect you to be able to think.

I will not expect you to claim you do not want to kill yourself.  I will not ask you to sign any contract agreeing not to kill yourself.  I will not expect you to find any such contract at all relevant to anything.

This is all I ask: let me hold some tiny pebble of your pain for you.  Let me stand beside you, knowing that it is a miracle of effort for you to be standing at all.

 

(In memory of Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison.   And of Rachel, Dawn, Nancy, Anne Marie, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria.)

Tags: grief

Reader Comments

4 comments

the grief

The pain of their loss is spread so widely, but never felt as intensely as those closest to the lost.

— Carl

re: first school day

the honesty of this is heart-wrenching and true. it's therapeutic to write in negatives, to literally take the load off the victims. it obviously can't repair, but it can, if for a second, offer peace.

— sarah

Beautiful statement of sympathy

The only (and very minor) quibble I have with the above? I'd offer one of the Newtown parents who lost a kid a Kleenex, if she or he were in the process of sobbing.

— Turner

handkerchiefs and such

Turner, you are right of course. Most people want a tissue. But when I fist was told that my baby had died, the doctor shoved a box of Kleenex at me, and it made me feel like he wanted me to sop up my tears at a moment when I didn't care if my face was covered with them.

And when I did get to the point of caring, I wanted a real handkerchief.

Thanks for reading.

— Kenna

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