“There MUST NOT be another Sandy Hook. You have a responsibility and an obligation to act now and change the laws.” ~ Carrie Lendroth Battaglia

 

This must be reblogged and passed on again and again and again, until someone, somewhere listens . . .

I am a mother of three girls, ages 2, 6, and 8. Two of them are Sandy Hook School students – one in first grade, one in third grade. I would like to share with you our experience with Dec 14th and my feelings on gun control.

My third grader has gone thru some deep grief over the loss of her siblings’ friends. She was devastated by the loss of the teachers, especially her principal, Dawn Hocksprung, whom we all loved. She is angry that this has happened, that lives were lost so tragically and that she can no longer go to her school. When she was evacuated that day to the fire house, she did not know if her little sister had survived. She struggles with the concept that there is evil in the world, that something this horrific could happen to this town, to her, to her sisters, to her friends. She is 8.

In addition to the tragic loss of her playmates, friends, and teachers, my first grader suffers from PTSD. She was in the first room by the entrance to the school. Her teacher was able to gather the children into the tiny bathroom inside the classroom. There she stood, with 14 of her classmates and her teacher, all of them crying. You see, she heard what was happening on the other side of the wall. She heard everything. Shooting. Screaming. Pleading. She was sure she was going to die that day and did not want to die for Christmas. Imagine what this must have been like.

With PTSD comes fear – all kinds of fear. Each time she hears a loud or unfamiliar noise, she experiences the fear she had in that bathroom. She is not alone. All of her classmates have PTSD. She struggles nightly with nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, and being afraid to go anywhere in her own home. At school she becomes withdrawn, crying daily, covering her ears when it gets too loud and waiting for this to happen again. She is 6.

Imagine being this age and living like this. My children face their fears every day by getting on the bus and going to school. Would you be able to do the same? How would you feel if these were your children?

Although we are getting help and trying to heal, this will affect us for the rest of our lives. We are thankful that by the grace of god, our children came home to us on Dec. 14. As a family and a community, we are deeply saddened and heartbroken at the loss of so many innocent children and beloved teachers.

We are also furious.

Furious that 26 families must suffer with grief so deep and so wide that it is unimaginable.

Furious that the innocence and safety of my children’s lives has been taken.

Furious that someone had access to the type of weapon used in this massacre.

Furious that this type of weapon is even legal.

Furious that gun makers make ammunition with such high rounds and our government does nothing to stop them.

Furious that the ban on assault weapons was carelessly left to expire.

Furious that lawmakers let the gun lobbyists have so much control.

Furious that somehow, someone’s right to own a gun is more important than my children’s rights to life.

Furious that common sense has gone out the window.

Furious that lawmakers are too scared to take a stand.

The “what if’s” never stop going through my mind. What if this weapon were still banned? What if there weren’t high capacity rounds? What if the shooter had different bullets? I think the carnage would have been a lot less. Yes, there would have been losses. But there would have been time. Time to react and possibly make a difference.

Those children and teachers had NO CHANCE. They did not just get shot. They got blown apart.

It’s time to stop catering to the gun owners and lobbyists and start caring about our children, our families, our teachers, our friends and our neighbors. The NRA does not care about people, they care about money.

I don’t believe that anyone, other than the military, has a right to own the type of weapon or ammo used at Sandy Hook.

The second amendment is not limitless.

Weapons like the AR15 have no place in society. This is simply common sense.

Veronique Pozner, mother of Noah Pozner, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, gave this statement which I believe whole-heartedly:
“The equation is terrifyingly simple: Faster weapons equal more fatalities. This is not about the right to bear arms. It is about the right to bear weapons with the capacity for mass destruction.”

We are trying to move forward, but there must be change. If our lawmakers cannot make this change, then we, as a people will elect those who will.

Excerpt from a letter by CARRIE LENDROTH BATTAGLIA, the mother of two children who survived the Sandy Hook school massacre.

 

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“Peace, serenity, and integration are unknown to me. My familiar climate is anxiety. I write as I breathe, naturally, flowingly, spontaneously, out of an overflow, not as a substitute for life.” ~ Anaïs Nin Nin*

"Sea Mist" (nd, oil on canvas)by Sir Kyffin Williams
“Sea Mist” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams

                   

“I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40’s.

Sir Kiffin Williams Barclodiad Y Gawres
“Barclodiad Y Gawres” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kiffin Williams

Well, the world didn’t end. Boehner didn’t get his Plan B. Westboro creeps were kept from grandstanding at Sandy Hook funerals by Hell’s Angels. And the NRA didn’t disappoint in the “We Know You are a Bunch of Myopic Assholes” category by suggesting that having guns in schools would keep violence out of schools.

Yep. The world continues to turn on its axis, and the inherent stupidity of people marches on.

Heavy sigh . . .

My other boy dog Alfie is dying. We used to refer to him as Mr. Muscle because of his swagger; he walked like a European body-builder in a Speedo. And I am once again filled with guilt because I know that I have not loved him as much as I loved Shakes, but I have loved him still, in spite of the fact that he’s psycho and goes off at the drop of a hat. How to resolve the guilt and the anguish? Probably not possible, nor should it be as it never is.

“I have no confidence in myself and great confidence in others. I need love more than food. I stumble and make errors, and often want to die. When I look most transparent is probably when I have just come out of the fire. I walk into the fire always, and come out more alive.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And because I am bereft and gloomy, I have chosen to populate today’s post with quotes from Anaïs Nin. You’ll forgive me, I hope.

Sir Kyffin WIlliams St Davids Head
“St. David’s Head” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kiffin Williams

Guilt is an insidious creature. It compels us to make bad decisions, to pursue avenues we would under different circumstances never trod. Guilt wipes from our consciousness any semblance of logical thinking. Its tentacles wrap themselves around our cerebellum and squeeze until the frontal lobe is incapable of choosing between good actions and bad actions.

Guilt resides within the brain but is born in the heart, where it develops on a continuous diet of losses and betrayals. Guilt is weaned on slights and slurs, and it festers on perceived injustices and imagined iniquities.

Guilt dusts the edges of every planned revenge and gilds each false sentiment that leaves our lips.

Guilt is perhaps the progenitor of imbalance in the heart, the mind, and the soul because it works against the Aristotlean Golden Mean. It is impossible to ride the middle when consumed by guilt, and so we fall prey to extremes.

“I think life tragic, not comic, because I have no detachment. I have been guilty of idealization, guilty of everything except detachment. I am guilty of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe.” ~ Anaïs Nin

If I had to choose one overriding emotion to define my life, it would most certainly be guilt:

  • I have not done enough
  • I have not loved enough
  • I have loved wrongly

    Sir Kyffin Williams Morfa Conwy
    “Morfa Conwy” (nd, oil on canvas)
    by Sir Kyffin Williams
  • I have lived cravenly
  • I have put myself before others
  • I have not considered myself enough
  • I have not considered the consequences
  • I have been paralyzed into inaction by the possible consequences
  • I have hidden behind false modesty
  • I have worn the cloak of aggression
  • I have watched when I should have acted
  • I have acted when I should have watched
  • I have proclaimed impartiality when it has not existed
  • I have decided when I should have bided

“I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And no, this is not a timely post for the holidays. I know that, and I would apologize, but that would be unseemly as I am not at all certain that I would be sincere.

Sir Kyffin Williams Porth Dafarch
“Porth Dafarch” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams

I am sorry if you have come here expecting folderol (falderal) and instead were met with oblique attempts at rationality. I have no control over the trails my mind will take on any given day, or even at any given hour. The term flighty is especially fitting on days such as these.

I began this post thinking about how the big Mayan prediction (or rather interpretation of the Mayan calendar) did not come to pass (as I never thought it would) and how life continued to march on inexorably, how the madness of our society continues to spiral, how the cheapness of a human life continues to be met with indifference. And then I alit on my other boy dog, which took me down an entirely different road, and unfortunately for you, that particular road is well-trod for me.

And so, I do apologize for that.

“I create a myth and a legend, a lie, a fairy tale, a magical world, and one that collapses every day and makes me feel like going the way of Virginia Woolf. I have tried to be not neurotic, not romantic, not destructive, but may be all of these in disguises.” ~ Anaïs Nin

And so Christmas will be here in three days, and I am completely without the sense of wonder and delight that I hope to capture each year, which makes me wonder when I will grow up and realize that life is simply what is and not what may be.

Sir Kyffin Williams Sunset, Penmon nd
“Sunset, Penmon” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Sir Kyffin Williams

And in spite of my misgivings, I will plant a smile upon my face come Christmas morning, and somehow, I may be able to move from a false face into a real one, if I can just let go of my guilt long enough.

You must wonder how someone such as myself can possibly move through life, how someone paralyzed by deep emotions can traverse the minefield that is life, and my reply is that I try, and on some days, I succeed, and on others, not so much, and today is a not so much day, but life insists on being attended to, so I will leave this page in a moment, and I will spend the next several hours wrapping presents in beautiful paper and adorning those packages with ribbons and bows because that is what I do, and I hope, I really and truly hope, that I can forget about myself for a while.

More later. Peace.

All quotes are taken from a December 1946 letter from Anaïs Nin to Harper’s Bazaar editor Leo Lerman who had asked Nin for a short auto-biography to use in a profile feature. She declined. (as found on Brain Pickings)

Music by Ane Brun, “The Light from One”

                     

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

~ Robert Hayden

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Sandy Hook Elementary School Hoa Nguyen Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School
by Hoa Nguyen (Newtown Patch)

                   

“Weary at the close of day, wondering if tomorrow brings me joy or sorrow.” ~ Leon Redbone

Friday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 50’s.

I’ve picked up some new followers recently, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some new voices commenting, which is always nice. I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you out in the ether who take a few minutes to peruse what I put here. When I first began this blog, I didn’t really know what my goals were, but I hoped that along the way one or two people would stop by. That this has come to pass gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I mean, someone besides my family and dogs is tuning in, and hey, that’s a nice feeling. So thanks.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Curbside Shrine by Emmanuel Dunand AFP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Curbside Shrine
by Emmanuel Dunand (AFP)

I’m hoping to get the house ready for Christmas this weekend, and while Alexis is out of town I’m going to work on Christmas stockings. At the very least I need to finish a stocking for Olivia. I’m hoping that I’ll get inspired once I go to the craft store, but right now, my creative side is coming up blank.

I stopped by my mother’s house yesterday with Olivia. I was watching her while Lex was trying to get ready for their road trip to Mississippi. My mother was glad to spend some time with her great-granddaughter. I am sad that Lex and the baby won’t be here for Christmas, but I remember when the kids were young and how we felt pulled in so many different directions at holiday time, so I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. My mother, of course, does not understand and thinks that it’s weird that Mike wants to see his family. How is that weird?

Oh well. We are talking about my mother, after all.

” . . . how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.” ~ Bob Hicok, from “In the Loop”

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, 50’s.

I began this post yesterday afternoon and had planned to come back to it in the evening after Corey and I ran some errands, and then what happened in Sandy Hook entered my consciousness, and I just couldn’t go on with a bunch of drivel about my life, all of which seems terribly insignificant and unimportant when compared to what happened.

Connecticut School Shooting
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Woman Waits to Hear News about her Sister
by Jessica Hill (AP)

So I wrote, just wrote whatever came to mind, uncensored, raw, without thought to structure or logic or development, and it helped, a bit. But I suppose the emotion that most of us are feeling (and yes, I am assuming here) is raw. How did this happen? Why did this happen?

And dammit, who are these people who think it’s a good idea to go to an elementary school and take out as many six and seven-year-olds as possible?* And this was before we learned today that the gunman wasn’t satisfied shooting his victims once but rather chose to inflict the children and adults with between three to eleven wounds. Who does this?

Truthfully, my overwhelming question is why in the hell didn’t this guy just kill himself if he was so mad at his mother, mad at the world, dissatisfied with his lot in life? What possesses a person to take a weapon into a school filled with young children and decide that this is a good thing? And yes, obviously his thinking was not logical, but I refuse to give him the excuse that he was a psychopath. That’s just too easy. And no, I won’t name him because the last thing he needs from me or anyone else is publicity.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth (IV,iii)

And so, like many others, I watched hours of news coverage, and even as I did so, I had to wonder why. Why was I watching? What was I hoping to glean from the talking heads? I mean, everyone was saying the same thing, and no one had anything new to report. It was all just a hodge-podge of sad commentary by dour-faced journalists, many of whom chipped in and said that perhaps now we would have a real discussion on gun control, and you could tell that they didn’t believe it even as they said it.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting Children Being Led from Building by Shannon Hicks AP slash Newtown Bee
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Children Being Led from Building
by Shannon Hicks (AP/Newtown Bee)

And yes, I am particularly cynical and bitter today. Having no answers makes me this way.

Seriously? All I could think was that if someone had done that to one of my children, or if it had happened to Olivia, I could not be responsible for the rage that would consume me. Odd words for one who abhors gun violence, from one who purports to hate violence of any kind. But it’s different when it’s one of your own, right? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

The loss of a child is an unbearable thing. But to lost a child to violence—this I cannot even begin to comprehend. When I hear news stories about young babies who have been beaten to death, my mind immediately jumps to a place of logic, for it is with logic that I try to face the unbearable: Why didn’t they just give their child to someone who really wanted it? If having that child was such a burden, just open a door and step outside. Finding a family who desperately wants to have a child is not hard.

Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting Mary Altaffer, AP
Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting
by Mary Altaffer (AP)

But then multiply that senseless death by 5 or 10 or 20? What then? How to begin to process such senseless devastation, for surely it is devastation that has been wrought upon those families—the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends. The repercussions of one man’s violence will spread and multiply for years.

Consider the first responders, the carnage to which they had to bear witness. How to live with those images? How to survive the nightmares that will surely follow?

Consider the survivors and the families of survivors, filled with gratitude and then overcome with guilt. How to resolve the antithetical emotions?

“For the poison of hatred seated near the heart doubles the burden for the one who suffers the disease; he is burdened with his own sorrow, and groans on seeing another’s happiness.” ~ Aeschylus

What happened yesterday morning in Connecticut will stay above the fold and at the top of the hour only until the next great tragedy usurps it and takes its place. That is the way of the news cycle, and unfortunately, that is the way of the human mind. We focus on what is put before us.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Emergency Responders, Media, Parents Gary Jeanfaivre Newtown Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Emergency Responders, Media, Parents
by Gary Jeanfaivre (Newtown Patch)

But how many other disgruntled employees, displaced teens, disassociated spouses are out there at this very minute stewing over injustices perceived and real? The violence does not end, will not end, certainly not in my lifetime.

And that violence will be visited upon countless other innocents in more ways than we can conceive of our begin to enumerate: guns, knives, poison, baseball bats, letter openers . . . The means are endless, and no, we cannot outlaw every single item that could be used to visit harm upon another. But does that mean that we should not regulate those things that can be regulated? Consider, in China a crazed man attacked students at a primary school, but none died; he used a knife. Students lost fingers and ears but not lives.

It was so easy to strip travelers of anything remotely sharp in the fallout of 9/11: no nail files, no box cutters, no pen knives, no multi-function tools, no aerosol cans, no large containers for liquid, and on and on and on, ad infinitum. We did that. This country and many others enacted those laws. So why so reluctant to enact or amend the laws we have regarding firearms? Yes, it’s in the Constitution, but when the Constitution was drawn, firearms were necessary to many aspects of life. Is that still the case today?

The times have changed, the circumstances evolved, yet our approach remains steadfastly 1950’s Cold War mentality when it comes to weapons.

“Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish” ~ Thomas More

But in spite of everything that happened, I refuse to believe that there is not goodness in this world. In the face of certain death, how many teachers thought only of extending their classroom role to that of protector? The teacher who read to her students during the gunfire? The teacher who shielded her students, losing her life in the process? The principal who ran towards the gunman, not away?

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting David Goldman AP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
by David Goldman (AP)

When we talk of heroes and role models, we should talk of these people, not NBA stars or mega movie stars. Everyday people doing their everyday jobs in extraordinary ways.

The ramifications of yesterday morning are still unfolding. I am not understating when I say that a lot of people are going to need a lot of therapy just to be able to close their eyes at night. The people of Sandy Hook, like the people of Aurora and the people of Blacksburg and the people of Columbine and the people of too many other places to name individually need our support now, a month from now, a year from now. The people of this nation need change. Now. The people in charge of this nation need to step up to the challenges. Now.

But it all begins with each one of us and what we are willing to do, or do we just go back to business as usual? Do we just retreat to the safety of our living rooms, the glow of our holiday lights, the warmth of our family’s arms? Or do we look at our children, say a prayer of thanks, and vow to work for change?

*List of victims; all the children killed were 6 or 7 years old.

Music by Vienna Teng, “Lullaby for a Stormy Night”

                   

Beyond Even This

Who would have thought the afterlife would
look so much like Ohio? A small town place,
thickly settled among deciduous trees.
I lived for what seemed a very short time.
Several things did not work out.
Casually almost, I became another one
of the departed, but I had never imagined
the tunnel of hot wind that pulls
the newly dead into the dry Midwest
and plants us like corn. I am
not alone, but I am restless.
There is such sorrow in these geese
flying over, trying to find a place to land
in the miles and miles of parking lots
that once were soft wetlands. They seem
as puzzled as I am about where to be.
Often they glide, in what I guess is
a consultation with each other,
getting their bearings, as I do when
I stare out my window and count up
what I see. It’s not much really:
one buckeye tree, three white frame houses,
one evergreen, five piles of yellow leaves.
This is not enough for any heaven I had
dreamed, but I am taking the long view.
There must be a backcountry of the beyond,
beyond even this and farther out,
past the dark smoky city on the shore
of Lake Erie, through the landlocked passages
to the Great Sweetwater Seas.

~ Maggie Anderson