Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rage and Fear and Weariness

In this blog, I try to write about subjects that affect or relate, directly or indirectly, to my life as a writer of books for children.

But today I feel compelled to write about something I always swore I wouldn’t touch. 

Two days ago, yet another gunman with serious mental-health problems walked into yet another public space and started shooting.  By the time he was finished, he and twelve other people were dead, and many more were injured.

I am weary and heartsick.  And furious.  And terrified.  Most of us are, aren’t we?  I’m sure I’m not writing anything inflammatory or controversial here.  Aren’t we all just bloody tired of this?

When I read the victims’ names in a news account yesterday, I noticed that many of them were in their fifties.  It took me aback.  Perhaps, post-Columbine and -Sandy Hook, I have now come to expect that children will always be among the murdered.

As the day went on, I found myself thinking about the middle-aged dead, how they went to work as usual, undoubtedly preoccupied with the minutiae of an unremarkable day, without the slightest inkling that they would never see their families again.  But something else was bothering me, something at the edge of my conscious thought.  At first I thought it was some degree of over-identification I might be feeling with the victims, many of whom were close to me in age.  But that wasn’t it.

It took me a while to figure it out.  It took me thinking of my own adult children to realize what was bothering me so much.

All those middle-age dead people are somebody’s babies.  Tonight, somebody’s elderly mother is remembering something no one else does: sleepless hours in a rocking chair in the middle of the night, rainy days re-reading The Cat in the Hat aloud until she thought her eyeballs would pop out of her head, hours spent pitching balls and braiding hair and correcting spelling and lying on the grass, pointing out the cloud that looked like Abraham Lincoln.  Her heart is blown apart as surely as if someone had fired a gun into her chest.  She will never again be able to laugh deeply or take a joyful breath.

I wish this would stop happening.  I wish everyone—gun owners and non-owners, Republicans and Democrats, hunters and vegetarians—would get together and figure out a way for the world to right itself. 

Because this isn’t working.  This isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes. This fact always makes me cry. Every dumpy uncute middle aged dead guy is actually somebody's precious baby. Their dearly beloved. Their life's work. And we make it far to easy for some black hearted wretch to destroy them and those that love them. Because a gun is such an efficent way to kill people.