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words for grief: Sandy Hook

December 18, 2012

I was in Wal-Mart’s vision center yesterday, checking on the overdue status of Lawson’s spectacles, when I happened to glance over and catch an older woman looking intently at Truitt with a misty look in her eye. Since Tru was in the process of Houdini-ing out of the strap that buckled him in to the cart and trying his very best to effect a runaway while I fondly but somewhat absently held him in place, I was at first confused.

Then: “you just look at them all a little differently now, don’t you?”

There was instant recognition, and I nodded soberly. “Yes, ma’am, you do.”

The past few days have been rough. It was difficult to let Lawson get on the schoolbus yesterday morning, difficult to let Autumn go on to the  middle school with her ride. It was hard to simply sit at home and wait. Good Morning America was a wash, because the faces of those six and seven year-old babies were there, breaking my heart anew.

There are no words for the unspeakable. To say I’m so sorry is insufficient. It’s a small thing, but I think we have at least shared a communion of grief as parents, brothers, and sisters. We have all asked the question, why?, knowing that there is no answer that will truly appease the soul’s hurt and offer any justice.

Now there is quite a debate circulating about guns, and the legitimacy of gun ownership. Some of the debate I have witnessed is pretty intense…pretty vitriolic, really. In all fairness, I think it is time for a conversation on this topic…a civil exchange. It needs to be a dialogue, though–a courteous give and take of ideas. I’d love to hear your thoughts…how about I start with mine?

We have always been supporters of the right to bear arms. My husband hunts, and stocks our freezer every year with meat we do not have to purchase in a supermarket, meat he has processed with his own hands, meat that is lean, free of any preservatives, and is entirely “organic.” He is passing the art and skill of hunting down to his son, as it has been done for generations preceding him. Gun ownership is something that has always been handled carefully and responsibly in our home. Our children are familiar with guns and the mechanics of the weapons, but have been thoroughly instructed in the safety issues that accompany them. They go hand in hand. There has never been a loaded gun brought into our home in the 17 years that we have been married, and God willing, that will continue.

I was nonetheless appalled when I saw the weapon that Adam Lanza used. This type of weapon has no place in the tradition of hunting, or even in target shooting, for that matter. I can’t really think of a situation where it’s necessary, except combat. To me, the question up for debate is not so much whether or not there should be gun control, but to what extent guns should be controlled. Does gun control mean the government will be able to dictate I may or may not own a gun at all? Boo, hiss. Or does gun control mean the government will set tighter limits on how I may purchase a gun (did you know that a gun may be purchased with no waiting period and no background check at most gun shows?)? Check. Does gun control mean no personally purchased weapons with a round capacity beyond…say…five? Fine by me. I’m not unreasonable–would just ask that my government not be unreasonable, as well.

The simple, basic truth of this matter is that a gun did not kill those precious babies. A deranged man did. He chose a particular weapon, and used it. He could have chosen an explosive device, and killed hundreds more. It is God’s grace, to my thinking, that he did not.

My point is this: until we–all of us: parents, educators, politicians–get to the why of the problem, the controls we enact and the safeguards we initiate will be flotsam protections against a rapidly rising tide.


That Face

October 28, 2012

I don’t really have a lot of words today.

Just three, in fact. The three that rule my days and have of late left me completely blissed out when this creature decides to randomly take a nap and give me a break.




That’s all.

I’ll let his face say the rest.

A Little Levity: Peer Pressure

August 15, 2012

The other night, Duane came in from a late evening catfishing with Lawson. He shipped Lawson off to quietly take his shower, as the rest of the house was abed, and went to take his own. He paused at the bathroom door, though, scratching his head. I set the Kindle I was reading down in my lap so I could listen to whatever it was he clearly had on his mind.

“You know,” he began, “a funny thing happened today.”

“What’s that?”

“I could’ve sworn I was 37 years old.”

A smile I couldn’t repress began to play over my lips. “What?” He looked a little sheepish, but repeated himself. “Where do you get that from?”

“Well…J and I were having lunch today, and somehow we got on the subject of birthdays and our ages and stuff, and he asked me how old I was. When I told him I was 37, he said, ‘nah, man, you’re 38.‘ “

“He did?!” I started to laugh at this point. “Duane, you are 37 years old, honey.”

“Are you sure?”

“Uh, yes!”  

His entire body relaxed. I hadn’t realized it until that point, but he had been holding a breath, or tension all along his frame. He ran his hand through his non-existent hair, shaved in his perpetual buzz, and let out a laugh. “I could’ve sworn I was! I just…didn’t…he said ‘do the math, man,’ and when I did the math, I came up with 38! You know, 1974, and 2012…”

“Well, sure, December 1974, and December 2012. Not 38 until then.” I continued to laugh. It was welling up, and I was helpless against the deep giddy belly giggles that issued forth. “Do the math, man.” I paused for a moment. “Does J think he is 38?”

“Well, yeah!” Duane was laughing, too.

You know how sometimes you get to laughing so hard you snort? That was me. Snorting. And trying to snort quietly, because I definitely did not want to wake the baby down the hall. “I am going to call that idiot,” I vowed. “Tell him to do the math. Better yet, I’m going to talk to his wife and see what she thinks about his fantastic math skills.”

This, folks, is the case for math classes in school.



August 12, 2012

I had this post in my head that I was all set to write today. It was hilarious, because my husband is hilarious, and it is a story that I quite honestly just cannot wait to tell you.

It is going to have to wait, though. After a long church day, I have logged on to email and Facebook to discover that a dear cyber-friend, my blogging superhero is gone. Just gone.

I stared at the email letting me know in shock for several minutes. I know my mouth was agape, and for a precious bit of time I simply could not process the information. We have a post due on 4P’s next week, I kept thinking, as if this somehow made a difference. There must be some mistake…I’m not reading this right. I logged on to Facebook and there it was, a status update from his page announcing his death. My sadness is inexpressible.

It’s like a light was snuffed out, creating a pocket of darkness.

What an amazing, bright legacy he leaves behind, though. Faulkner speaks in Absalom, Absalom making “that scratch, that undying mark on the blank face of the oblivion to which we are all doomed…” Well, I know better than to expect oblivion, but what a scratch Jason made. There will be no forgetting this incredibly gifted writer, photographer, and teacher as he makes his way into that good night.  

To see Jason’s work, link to his blog, Adventures and Misadventures of Daily Living, on my Blogroll. He was also the mastermind behind Four Perspectives, an enterprise which I have dearly loved being a part of and regret not being able to do more with in the last couple of years.

Here’s to you, Jason. We love you, and miss you already.

17 Years

August 6, 2012

A successful married always life requires falling in love many times, but always with the same person.

Yesterday was our 17th wedding anniversary. Just saying that makes me feel a little old. I have a daughter who will be in high school in a year, and I’ve been married for SEVENTEEN YEARS. Where in the world did the time go?

This was a really low-key anniversary for us. Duane told me, very sweetly, a little over a week ago that he wanted to take me to Charlottesville for a day of shopping and Melting Pot-ing, but we would have to wait until after the kids and I returned from our impending trip to the Outer Banks. That was pretty much the end of the discussion. I did peek online to see what the 17th anniversary gift was supposed to be–furniture! Maybe we would see something in C-ville that we both liked and the house needed. Or maybe not…at this point, gifts are not a big deal.

Sundays are always a little on the mayhem-side around here. There’s church, and lunch to follow, and then I have Youth in the afternoons. Yesterday was compounded by the heat pump’s decision to stop working around midnight Saturday, which necessitated getting a technician in midday to work on it. Our floors were covered with attic insulation as he got that working again for us (gift enough, I promise you).

When things finally calmed down for the evening, we settled in to watch the Olympics. We’d been watching for a good half-hour or so when I started paying attention to the date on the weather alert that kept flashing up above the screen. A flash flood warning was in effect until 8/6.

Ha. 8/6. That means today is 8/5, which means it’s our anniversary! DOH!

I snuck a look at Duane to see if he’d noticed.


So…should I act all injured and hurt that he forgot our anniversary? Pull the “so…when were you planning on telling me happy anniversary” card? Or should I totally own that I had forgotten, too?

“Sooo…..happy anniversary.”

Silence. Then: “” His expression was priceless. I couldn’t stand it. I had to come clean, and I confessed that I hadn’t remembered until I noticed the date on the television.

It occurred to me as we sat and laughed over our absentmindedness that this is precisely why I love him so much. We don’t try to hide our flaws from each other, but rather lay them wide and laugh over them. What good does it do to do otherwise?


The Update

December 29, 2011

I was glancing back at the last couple of posts that I have made (not-so-recently–bad blogger!!), and there’s this prevailing theme of adjustment and coping. The difficulty of those first few months as we dealt with colic, milk allergy, reflux, and just the general transition to a new baby was definitely not fun. I don’t remember it being that way, AT ALL, with Autumn and Lawson, but of course, I was younger, they were younger, the grandparents were younger, and life was simply not as complicated. I wasn’t working on a master’s and serving in ministry.

I had no intention of blogging today; I was merely looking for a recipe I needed for this evening. But as I skimmed over those posts, I glanced up at Truitt playing on the floor in front of me: happy, content, fun, and I realized that I couldn’t not blog about him and how different things are now that he is seven months. I owe it to to him, really.

You know that old Virginia Slims commercial? You’ve come a long way, baby? That’s Truitt. At six months, he had eight teeth, was sitting up and crawling. He’s pulling up and doing some rudimentary cruising now. His crawling is turbo packed as he chases after Lawson and Autumn, bound as he is to be in the same room with them. He will probably wind up with slightly addled brains from the number of times he falls and bonks his head during the day, determined to stand and toddle instead of remain seated. I’m thinking about getting him a helmet.

He loves mashed potatoes, yogurt, scrambled egg yolk, and pancakes, but still refuses to hold his own bottle, lazy thing. He is the first of three babies that I am actually having to baby-proof the house for, and is teaching us all every day how to be better parents and siblings as we stretch ourselves, and find that we have untapped reserves of love, patience, and humor. At least–that’s what I see. I’m sure that Autumn just sees that she’s losing computer time as she keeps an eye on Tru while I’m in the shower, and Lawson just sees that he has to keep his voice down while Tru’s napping. But whether they realize it or not, they’re learning to step outside of themselves, and put someone else’s needs first.

It’s hard to reconcile this baby who studies us thoughtfully one moment and then offers a cheeky smile with the same one who wailed miserably for a steady fifty percent of most days the first four months of his existence. It’s a miracle.

Things Mothers Do

July 22, 2011

I carried you for months in the uncomfortable breech position while you cheerfully kicked my bladder into submission and showed me early on who was boss.

I took fourteen staples for you, groaned my way through a stupid morphine drip that did nothing for my pain. (“Ten more minutes? What do you mean I have to wait ten more minutes? I need it now!”)

I spent weeks of nights that were more waking than not when you decided sleep was optional and ultimately undesirable, wearing a path in the floor and turning the muscles in my back into jerky as I carried, carried, carried you into a fragile, colicky sort of comfort.

And this morning, I scooped your watery poop into a tiny plastic container while you cooed contentedly at me, oblivious to how impossible it is to do so with the little claw the doctor’s office gives you to do so. I even smeared some on my finger—unintentionally, of course.


So thirteen years from now, please don’t roll your eyes at me as if I’ve never done anything for you and I’m the most horrible mother in the world who doesn’t understand you and exists solely to ruin your life.

“Because.I.Have.Done.Stuff.” She says, as she washes poop off her fingers at the kitchen sink.