You never wanted the title
You never wanted the attention
You never thought you would be put in such a position at just 14 years old
You never thought you would wake up from a sound sleep to the sound of gunfire in your kitchen
Escaping into the night with your nephew clinging to you for his life
Mother gone. Brother gone. Sister gone.
Now people clap for you. Friends. Family. Strangers.
They call you a hero to be celebrated and congratulated
How you must long for life to be normal again
To know where you belong
To be with those you love and who love you
Stay with people who will keep you safe
Hold on tight
Please don’t give up
You are a normal 14 year old boy who did something extraordinary when presented with a situation
Take your new title. Always remember what you did. Move forward and grow into an extraordinary young man.
Make your mom proud.
Make yourself proud.
They say that writing is good for the soul. That it’s therapeutic. Necessary. We don’t just write to get words down on the paper. To write is to understand. I know this. But yet, I don’t do it enough. A friend recently said, in reaction to my whining about writer’s block, “Carrie, just write.” That advice is ringing in my ear this morning. Just write.
When a tragedy strikes it becomes even more important to write. Why? Does it help us make sense of it? Will it clarify what is currently a muddy, murky sea of thoughts that won’t go away? Can it make the faces of the dead, and the living, disappear when I lay down to sleep? One can only hope. So many questions that will most likely go forever unanswered.
A man shoots and kills his family. He spares the two youngest children. They escape in the night, running in their bare feet, to the neighbors home for safety. This young man with his nephew who is five. Alone. Orphans. Homeless. Are they strong enough to carry on? What can we do for them? Is it enough to grieve with them? For them?
When we know we can’t answer these questions and we know we can’t make the hurt go away we busy ourselves with the things we can do something about. We raise money. We reach out. We work to get the children back in school. We go to the funerals. We listen. We remember. We stay. My grief is taking me in a different place. Now, when I look at people, especially children, I find myself looking deep into their eyes. I focus on them and listen intently when they talk. I will admit, I am highly distractible and find it difficult not to turn my head when someone walks by or when I hear a noise. I am working to contain that. I can’t go around hugging these kids every day (as much as I would like to) so instead I hug them with my eyes. I can feel that they notice. It’s different. Sometimes I’m all but a stranger to them, but I think they walk away feeling like someone really listened to them for that moment.
While so many of my questions about this horrific night cannot be answered, I can start to mend the heartbreak. The first step, for me, is to write. It solidifies for me what my instincts already set in motion and makes it permanent. To write means we slow down and get a handle on what we’re thinking. I am so grateful for the peace of mind I have when I know what it is….to write.