About three minutes ago I took my son to the bathroom. He’s 6, and drank a ton of water this evening. So, to avoid him peeing in his bed, I gently picked him up, carried him on one shoulder and brought him to the toilet.
I love carrying my kids when they’re 80-percent (or 100-percent) asleep. They’re warm sacks of love, just hanging there. There’s no tension or pressure, because they know—as their dad—I’m filled with love. I’m here to protect them. To guard them. To nurture them. It’s my No. 1 job, and I take it as seriously as a person can. Most parents do, obviously.
I digress. A few hours ago I was reading the local newspaper, and I saw a photograph of a family that lost a son in the recent Sandy Hook nightmare. It was the mom, the dad and the sibling, and they just looked so … crushed. So lost. So … helpless. What do you do after this happens? How do you go on? Like, ever go on? It’s a cliche, but—to a certain degree—it’s probably easiest in the immediate aftermath, when you’re surrounded by love and support and TV cameras and prepared meals and gifts. There’s a level of distraction, and while the pain is as raw as a fire burn, it’s, to a slight degree, soothed by the cocoon of compassion.
But what now?
The cameras have pretty much left. The flowers are beginning to wilt. Eventually, school will resume. You’ll go back to work. You’ll pretend life is normal. Eat. Sleep. Bathroom. Banter. Watch the Giants game. Talk about the weather. Blah. Blah. Blah. Yet, truth be told, it’s never again normal. You’re asking yourself, “What could I have done?” You second and third and fourth and fifth guess yourself. What if we’d bought that house in Stamford instead of Sandy Hook? What if I’d taken my son out of school that day to see the Rock Center Christmas Tree? I’m thinking one can’t help but picture those final moments. The classroom. The shooter. The children. All those children. How, as a parent, can’t these things go through your mind? Over and over and over and over …
I’m not trying to be overly grim. I’m haunted by this; haunted—truthfully—by the fading memories and the inevitability that we’ll collectively forget. It’s easy (and cliche) to say in a eulogy or obituary that, “[Insert name] will stay in our hearts forever.” But is that really true? Can we, as a people, make Newtown different than the sites of other tragedies? Can we make it have a permanent impact; a permanent place in our souls?
Or, ultimately, will we forget? Like we, sadly, always seem to do.