I spent the better part of last week engrossed in a mundane task...painting out entryway. The walls were highly textured, and there was a variety of trim that made the whole process slooooow. Anytime I have a mundane task that requires minimal attention but maximal time I always find my mind wandering. During this particular project I found myself contemplating matters such as my hair color, the Christmas letter I need to write, and "if the world really does end on 12-21-12 the time I spent painting was really quite silly" (which is why I haven't written my Christmas letter...if we're all still here on 12-22 I'll write it, and it will be late like usual). I also had a specific contemplative thought..."what type of news could I receive right now that would make me drop this paint and leave the job unfinished?" Something life changing that happens to nearly everyone at some point. An accident. A diagnosis. A tragedy. Luckily my mind did not dwell there. I did not yet know of the horror that was playing out in an elementary school.
As soon as the last swipe of paint was on the wall I checked my facebook newsfeed. And there it was. At the time the reports were that the shooting had taken place in a kindergarten classroom. Kindergarten. My daughter. And for that moment I had that wave of panic. But the reality was not mine. And as I took a breath there was deep down inside that groan all of us experienced..."No. Just no." Grief. Disbelief. Before there is a thought of a political rant about gun control or religion or mental illness there was that moment that is filled with anguished silent wailing.
I wanted to race to the school to get my daughter. I wanted to embrace her. I wanted her to know how important she is to me. But instead of causing her panic by pulling her out of school I went to the store and bought a frame to display a picture she had drawn of me drinking a large cup of coffee. I had been wanting to do it, and I decided I didn't want another day to go by without her having another tangible way for me to show her I love her.
When the time did come to pick her up from school I wanted to hug her, but I knew my tears would start again. So I took her little hand in mine like I usually do, a little tighter this time, and asked her about her day. She was sad about not having time to finish a project at school. I wanted that innocence back for the children of Newtown, Conneticut, that the worst part of their day would have been not completing a project. That the parents would have to deal with telling a child to use their inside voice rather than face the silence.
On Monday morning I'll be sure to give her an extra hug. If she wants to cuddle a little extra this weekend I'll be sure to take the time. And I pray that I never again take for granted each day God has given us as a family.