I couldn't sleep this morning. I kept thinking about that mother across the street.
So I started making my coffee and putting together my son's lunch box. And then I thought, she can't do that today. I plugged in the waffle iron -- my son likes homemade waffles -- and started heating the milk for my daughter's hot cocoa. She can't make her children breakfast this morning.
I went into my children's bedrooms and kissed their hair, their cheeks, their foreheads. I lay in each one's bed and felt their breathing as they slept deeply, having trouble waking up with the fall darkness and before we've turned back the clocks for extra morning sunlight. I felt their breath and thought about her and how she must just long for their breath.
She lives right across the street. I haven't been outside yet, but apparently there are still news vans and policemen out there. Last night, there were sirens and lights and helicopters. Before the news broke, friends who happened to be in the neighborhood or who heard that was something happened on my corner kept calling, one call interrupting the next, asking if we were okay. "We're fine." I answered. "There's been a tragedy across the street."
In one sense we are fine. My children are breathing and I am making their breakfasts and lunches this morning. But in another sense, we are not fine. I cannot stop thinking about her, about him and about them. We are not fine because two children are dead. We are not fine because two parents have had their lives ruined. We are not fine because we cannot get those images out of our heads -- of a mother's screams, of the cruelty and injustice of an adult stabbing small children. We are not fine because even though they were not my children they were children, across the street.
What do we do as parents today? We talk to our children. We listen to their questions, feelings and fears. We reassure our children that they are safe and loved. And we grieve. We grieve with these parents who happen to live across the street from me and whose child attended the same elementary school as my children did. No matter how near or far, whether we share a street corner or we live across the world, we scream with them.