Yesterday was the first day that reading a news article about Sandy Hook, or listening to it on NPR, didn't make me cry, and I think that's only because I tried not to dwell on it. I've never reacted to news the way I've reacted to this monumental tragedy. I've never cried at current events and I was alive and somewhat aware during Columbine, alive and very aware during 9/11, and in college when the Virginia Tech shootings occurred. But they all seemed like pieces of current events to me, not something that was actively happening to me. This one felt different. I can't explain it myself and can only echo the sentiments of others around us - it happened to children, it was supremely unthinkable, there's no explanation for it and therefore we can't process it. Though no one has been affected more than Newtown, this tragedy left a wide, national berth of devastation that I haven't seen before. People in our town, on the opposite side of the country from Connecticut, had panic attacks. My colleagues cried, not only about the victims but about their own children at school. When I called my family, they were upset and angry, unable to talk about it.
I spend a lot of time complaining. A lot of hours are wasted on thinking about what I don't have, or what I want to have instead of what I do have. I found myself, this week, whining about Christmas and discussing the difficulties of being part of a family (dysfunctional or otherwise) with my parents. And in the course of the conversation, it became apparent that what we were complaining about was having too much. We were complaining about having too many people to spend Christmas with. Of having too many people to buy gifts for. Of having too many personalities clashing at once in one house. And in the light of recent events, who are we to complain about having too much? For those of us that don't have to un-decorate for Christmas, who don't have to remove presents from under the tree for someone lost to them, should we not be absolutely and wholly grateful?
When I started to realize what I was complaining about and how out of place it was in our current events, I looked out the window to see the first snow of the year falling quietly on the street below. As the snow built and accumulated into a light dusting of white on the tops of rooftops and cars, it felt clean, new, and hopeful. What better to give us hope this season than a blanket of snow quieting the world into personal reflection?