For weeks now, I've been planning on writing a blog post about Jack's third birthday, which is tomorrow, December 18th. As far as mommy posts go, this one was going to be a no-brainer. I was going to reminisce about the past year and how much our boy has grown and learned, and tell him all the things I hope for during his next year of life and beyond (starting with potty training and ending with things like a family of his own). But how can I write a post like that without thinking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday? At the same time, how can I even attempt to write about it, when I can't possibly fathom what all of those families are going through right now?
Part of me wants to avoid it - it almost seems wrong to read the constant stream of articles and blog posts. But today when I went online, there they all were, front and center, heartbreaking and unavoidable. A list of the victims' names, twenty of them with a "6" or "7" next to them. I knew the children were all between the ages of 5 and 10, but there was something about seeing those single digit numbers next to each name. I was grateful that the pictures didn't load. I didn't want to see their faces.
Like all parents, I've been holding my child a little tighter these past few days, getting in extra snuggles despite Jack's protests, thanking the universe that my family is safe. Tomorrow, Jack will open his birthday presents and eat his homemade birthday cake. This weekend, he'll be adored by his grandparents and aunts and uncle, showered with praise and Christmas gifts, hugged and kissed by humans and dogs alike. He won't know how lucky he is; he'll take these things for granted, because he's three and the world revolves around him. Just as it should.
Earlier today, John and I were discussing how we could help the families of the victims. John felt like money wasn't enough, and of course it isn't. How could it possibly be? But there will be funerals to pay for, children of the adult victims who will need money for college, long-term therapy for the children who witnessed the attack. The fact that I don't have to worry about those things is easy to take for granted, especially during the holidays when my mind is focused on trivial things like flight connections and buying the right gifts. Now, it's hard not to think about all the gifts that will remain unopened this year in Newtown.
"We're so lucky," John said to me this morning. Just now, when I told him I was struggling with this blog post, he told me I didn't have to write anything. And I know that there are far more eloquent posts about this out there. But one day, when Jack is grown and has a family of his own, I hope he'll look back at this entry and know how loved he was, and understand a little of what the word "lucky" means to a parent.