Fri, Dec
14
2012

A Deathly Day

This past Wednesday was the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. Tonight, I’ll be heading for the annual mass in remembrance of his life, and for the repose of his soul.

meandmydaddy.jpg

Has it really been five years? Five years since hospital visits ended…five years since calls in the middle of the night…five years since bed-side vigils…

No one should have to say goodbye to their father at Christmas. No one can understand the trauma until they know — viscerally — the experience of looking down at the man who loved and protected you all his life, slowly struggling to his last breath…his watching wife, son & daughter trying to come to terms with the fact his spark of life would vanish the next morning…and would never return. I re-live the memory…it comes to me, unbidden, at the most unexpected moments.

I was moody enough over the last day or so…but I didn’t think I’d also have to be contemplating the death of children…again.

As everyone will have heard by now, there has been another gun rampage at a school in the United States. It has left 27 people dead…20 of them children.

It’s my worst nightmare…and it’s every teacher’s worst nightmare. I’ve (ghoulishly?) imagined what would happen in such a situation, if I was confronted by a gun man, rampaging his way through my students…imagining my inevitable & irreversible response…

I shouldn’t have to imagine such a situation. But it never seems leave us…whether it’s Columbine or Virginia Tech. How many times does it have to happen? How many times do teachers like myself have to contemplate their own lives being taken, in the possible protection of their young charges? In the heart of an institution where everyone should feel safe and secure…

My father’s death was devastating enough…but how does one recover from the massacre of innocents, who will never have the chance to grow up? They will never live to contribute their uniqueness to society. A crime of the most obscene order.

As I sit in the pew tonight, once again contemplating how our Christmas season has been forever tinged with sadness, my heart aches for the parents in Connecticut who have lost something precious. Families that will forever celebrate Christmas after Christmas, cloaked with the stain of loss. It doesn’t matter their age…whether they’re 6 or 69. You never truly recover from the loss of those closest to you. Time doesn’t always heal. You simply deal with the pain, and move on…

I pray the parents of Connecticut have the strength to move on. It will be difficult…and painful. But if life is to continue, it’s also necessary.

For my mother…for my sister…and now for that beautiful, gorgeous little niece of mine…I always move on. May these grieving parents find similar rocks of Gibraltar to act as an anchor…