It could have been my children.
It could have been my students.
It could have been my school.
It could have been my neighbors, nieces, or nephews.
It could have touched my community or my circle of friends and family.
It could have been me.
But here I am still breathing in earth's air, and crying salty ocean tears for families I've never met and children I've never taught.
In their faces and stories I see and hear my fifteen 3rd graders.
In their faces I see my 7 year old twins.
In a moment they are gone, with no goodbyes or prayers or hugs, just gone, like sun behind clouds, but never returning. I weep for their moms who go to bed sobbing and stiff, moms who haven't eaten since that terrible morning, moms who can't sleep but don't want to stay awake anymore, moms who had laundry folded and dinner ready, and games to watch, and picture books still to read, moms who held their children in their arms and in their hearts, moms who will never be who they once were, now shattered and broken, weight of pain pushing down on their chests so much that they can't breathe anymore.
That's why I weep, feel their pain, pray for something good out of bad, hope for light to shine in darkness, imagine my blonde boy gone, no song, no sweet high-pitched voice, no questions about God or life, no Lego creations or hot wheels on the floor, no Elvis dance moves, no touch or hug or smile... it burns my heart deep.
And I imagine my dark-haired girl not here, no earth-brown eyes full of life and laughter, no singing at the top of her lungs off key, no animal drawings or teddy bears in bed, no sweet kisses and heartfelt prayers to Jesus, whom she knows and loves and my heart burns deep. Tragedy- an event resulting in great loss... would there be any greater loss than the death of a child? My child?
And in their loss I have gained. It feels shameful to admit that I have gained something in their chasm of grief. I've been given new eyes to see my children fully alive, fully awake, fully born to each moment, brimming with hope and destiny, and I see them clearly, my children. They are here and I will not miss these moments and minutes and mysteries.
I'm drinking deeply of each interaction,
each wisp of contentment,
each want and desire,
each concern of theirs,
and every second in between.
It's as if I've had lasik surgery on my heart and what once was blurry has become so clear and concise. I get it, how this moment is wrapped in beauty, meant for my enjoyment, meant for me to praise the One who holds it all, even my kids, especially my kids. It's horrible to say that someone else's grief could be my great reward, my remembering to see each moment as a gift. I fear that I will soon forget how precious life is, how full and glorious it all is, when the news no longer speaks of the tragedy and lives go grinding on, will my heart grow cold and my vision grow dim?
And in this moment, as I type, the twins rush in after running around the house, and they both say "Mama, feel my heart, how it's beating!" And I stop to feel their hearts, literally, my hand on their chests and the chest rising and falling. "I love that, that I can feel your hearts." I reply. And they run away giggling and sweating and gasping.
And that's the gift, hearts beating fully alive and on time and in rhythm. And eyes that see the gift. This feeling, this moment, this lesson, this sermon written on my children's hearts, may I never forget.