I have not cried since I learned about the massacre in Newton.
Teared up, yes, nodded my head in sadness when others cried, of course.
But no tears, no weeping, no throwing myself on the floor and screaming myself hoarse like a dear friend did.
I have not cried because instead of grief, I have only felt black rage. Gut-choking anger. Irritated beyond measure. I have railed against almost every blog post and article I have read about Newton, angry at writers telling me I must not avoid the event but grieve; I must not blame; I must wait to talk about gun control; that if I can just let go of the fearful thoughts…
I have railed against it all, feeling that nobody is getting it. I told my friend Michele everybody had their heads up their spiritual butts. Oh yes, I have been angry.
Yet confused because my rage seemingly had no object – besides innocent bloggers. I did not blame the young man or his mother. I didn’t curse the NRA or the people who make the semi-automatic guns and those deadly gun magazines. I didn’t rail against the U.S. for being a violent nation that spends too much on military. Hell, I couldn’t even dredge up anger at President Reagan for cutting federal aid for mental health programs in the 80’s.
Then this morning, writing, the tears started. And the words “I am sorry” spilled out of my mouth.
I sobbed “I am sorry” again and again.
At first, I worried I might be a little unhinged but after the release of the tears, I got it: My own culpability had been a rock against the door of my heart.
I am sorry dear sweet beloved children and grieving parents and brave teachers. I am sorry I didn’t do more to create a world where you were safer.
I am sorry I allowed cynicism, sloth and my tendency to talk big rather than take action keep me from marching, writing letters and giving money to change the gun story of this country. Stories can be changed. I am sorry I did not make the effort.
85 years ago, my father was 8 years old. He was playing Cowboys and Indians with his neighbor. He picked up his brother’s shotgun. My dad did not know the gun was loaded. I can still remember the blank sorrow on my dad’s face when he told me this story. I must have been about 16. When he told me he had killed his friend. I am sorry that in 85 years we have not made this kind of tragedy unthinkable. Instead, it has been writ so horribly and far too frequently.
I am sorry.
I do not write this from a misguided sense of guilt but from a heart that understands that those children are yours and mine – that all the people who die from gun violence everyday are us. I want us to take better care of ourselves – and unlike so many things – when it comes to gun violence, this is doable. This is not impossible – not at all. That is what I am most sorry about – that the story of our times has become a throw up our hands story. A story that there is nothing to be done, it’s too complicated, Congress is too divided, our country is too corrupt, money rules, blah blah blah.
I am sorry for ever buying that story. Hope is what I will take from this tragedy, strange as that might seem. Hope is what I will mine from all the needless deaths and yes, from my father’s darkness. Hope to keep myself chugging forward, to keep remembering I can do better.
To change our thoughts, sure. To pray, yes. To meditate, please and to take action – again and again and again – so everyone’s babies and teachers and fathers and teenagers have a better chance.