I am sitting in my car. It’s cold and I need to go into the grocery store because I’m so busy I shouldn’t be wasting time. But President Obama has just finished addressing the nation about the senseless shooting in Connecticut. He was so choked up he had to pause before he could go on speaking.
The news commentators, usually so slickly professional, are all over the place trying to make sense of this tragedy. I can hear their confusion, their horror. They’re even talking about it—how they’re having difficulty separating themselves from the fact that innocent kindergarteners will not have Christmas this year. Will not grow up. Will not get married. These babes went off to school today ten days before Christmas, probably worrying if Santa would be bringing their special gift. And they were shot to death for no reason.
My cell phone rings. It’s my daughter, wanting to talk about the shooting. “I thought Portland was bad the other night,” she says. “A shooting in a mall. This is so much worse. Now, I want to just get all the family together, go home and lock the doors.”
Another call comes in. It’s my daughter-in-law. She wants to talk about the killings too. I’m glad they’ve called. We need this: to talk to each other, to touch base. When 911 happened, we all lived close and could get together. Now, we’re spread over the country, but at least, we can talk.
“I feel like it is 911—that it’s not just another shooting spree. This feels like a national tragedy,” I say to both women. Both say they hope that the tragedy will finally create change in gun laws. “I hope so,” I say.
When I disconnect, I sit for a moment, staring out the windshield. Then I turn off the engine and open the car door. I will go into the store now, but I can’t remember what I thought I needed.