My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
— Adrienne Rich
December 14, 2012
by Suzanne Moyers
I sit in my driveway, shaking, hand against my mouth.
My husband has just left to take the part of “Class Mom” at my daughter’s school holiday party. It’s his day off, and he doesn’t have all the opportunities during the year to take part in these events as I do.
I snap off the radio, try to pull myself together. My stomach lurches. I consider getting back in the car, driving as fast as I legally can to my daughter’s school. I imagine myself hugging her, telling the teacher we are taking her home, even before she can do her Snowperson craft or bite into a delicious cookie. Or should I go to my son’s school first? Take him before he can gather with his friends after school to play Minecraft? My two great loves, whom I need to see and hold, to know they are safe. This is what I want to do, a visceral need that drives me to pace around the kitchen table twelve times before I can talk myself out of it.
Of course, I know this would not be a good thing to do. I am the Mom and I must be calm. After all, now my children will know for sure what they already suspect: That no place is safe for them. Not school or the movie theater or church or near Columbus Circle or in Times Square…
And when this dawns on them (if it hasn’t already), I must convince them that things will still be okay. Even if I don’t actually know this.
I turn on the TV, still shaking. I think: Tomorrow we must raise our voices, insist on the strictest gun bans imaginable. No, not the strictest gun laws possible. No, not the more “practical” or the “fairest.” The. Strictest. Gun. Laws. Imaginable.
And through it all, we must keep loving as hard as we can—each other and the people around us, because if we do this, maybe we can finally make guns obsolete. If we can make our dealings with each other as full of understanding and acceptance and love as possible, maybe we can end the kind of insanity that makes a person crazy enough to grab a gun in the first place.
I know: This idea of Love sounds insane.
More insane than going into a school and shooting little children who might, themselves, be doing a Snowperson craft or taking their first bite of a delicious cookie?
I think it’s the only thing, to love. Not just our own, but most definitely—most insistently—our own. Not just to hold them and to keep them safe, but to hear them. Hear each other. Even when we are furious, to stop, nod, see the other side of things, their side. Teach the adults of the future—the lucky ones who will not be shot down in their gymnasiums—to empathize, to feel, so that when they are furious, alone, alienated, when they do pick up that weapon and finally point it into the little face, they will understand what another parent might feel like, seeing the broken body, having to say good-bye. They will understand what it means.
Love. As hard as you can, love.