Out of all the rooms in our house and all the furniture in it, my bed is the most cherished. It’s the place — a safe haven — that I fall into after a long day, and where I go back to if the morning allows it. It’s where I read my favorite books and magazines, where I shop through the pages of catalogs, and where I work on my laptop to write what’s on my mind. That’s what I’m doing now.
This bed of mine, which I love so, is the place where our babies slept when they probably should have been in their own cribs. This is where those growing girls recover when they’re sick, and where they calm down when they’re scared. This is the place where we watch cartoons on snow days, and where we catch movies on holiday breaks. We play with Barbie dolls and stuffed animals in this heap of woolly blankets and cooler sheets, and we hide underneath them in a homemade tent, complete with flashlights and glow-in-the-dark sticks. We’re protected here.
This afternoon, I traveled to my girls’ elementary school about 20 minutes early just to be close by. The devastating news of the day weakened my knees, soured my stomach and broke my heart. When Maryn and Ava finally emerged from their 1st and 4th grade classrooms, smiling broadly and carrying the gifts they had purchased for us at the holiday store, I found it almost impossible to smile back. I felt unbelievable relief but also incredible guilt for looking forward to everything we had in store for the weekend. Christmas lights. Cookies. Music. Laughter.
After the girls had kicked off their shoes and dumped out their backpacks, grabbed a snack and chased it with juice, they hopped on the couches and turned on the TV. Panic surged through my body, and I grabbed the remote control and quickly turned it off again. They looked at me strangely, wondering if they had done something wrong.
“You know what?” I began. “It’s kind of cold down here. Why don’t we go upstairs and get in my bed for a while?”
The girls jumped up and ran for the stairs, pounding the risers like Clydesdale horses. They squealed and giggled as they bounced around in rumpled linens that should have been made before I went to work. With Ava on my right side and Maryn on my left, I looped my arms through theirs, as if to tie ourselves into a knot. In what seemed to be no time at all, both of them drifted off, peacefully, where they belonged. Safe and sound.
Our thoughts and prayers are with every parent, child, teacher, staff member, and administrator at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the community of Newtown, Connecticut.