Of course I've been crying often this weekend. Friday I wanted to hug hug hug my children when they walked through the door. So I did. But I also (inexplicably) snapped at them. And again on Saturday. And again yesterday.
And today, I cried after I dropped Josh off at seminary and just felt like the whole world was too much to manage. So I asked David for a blessing, picked myself up by my bootstraps and made lunches.
And then the dog peed on the floor when Kate let her out to say hi to the neighbor boys picking up Sophie. And I started to sob as I cleaned up the mess (telling myself it was because I'd had to clean up four messes yesterday and I'm. just. not. cut. out. for. this. chaos.)
And then I came home after dropping off carpool and the drycleaning (in my pajamas...and of course I saw people I know) and I cried again. And so I took a nap. (Five hours of sleep a night for weeks on end doesn't make this momma happy.)
And then I read this: What Six Looks Like and that did it to me again.
As I read it and wept (it was more than crying this time), I realized that most of what's going on in my head is just plain messy grief. I remember the first time I realized grief could just make the whole world feel off without realizing that I was really mourning. It was my brother's birthday, a year after his death. I had been doing just dandy for a long time, and I thought about him that day with love and remembrance, thinking I was handling it OK, but everything just felt SUCKY. I was mad at everyone in the house, I was frustrated with myself, and then I forgot to pick up the kids from their first day of school because it was an early out day. It was while talking to my mom that I recognized the truth: I was just plain sad and mad that my brother was dead, that my world was different than it had been, that I missed him and wouldn't get to wish him a happy birthday, that I couldn't be sure of the future anymore.
And today feels like that day, but bigger. Bigger, because while I ache ache ACHE for the families whose loved ones were ripped away so terribly, so awfully, so horribly, I also ache for the family of the young man who committed this atrocity. I ache for the boy he once was, for the pain he felt and the pain he caused. I ache for those who struggle with mental illness and for their families. Until you've lived with mental illness, seen its ravages on someone you love, you don't understand the immense pain, the questioning, the agony that it can create. And once you've seen it or lived it, you understand that there are very few black and white cause and effects for those in its grips. I'm sure most have you have read this blog post: Thinking the Unthinkable. It is powerful and terrifying and reminds us that those who struggle with mental illness (both the individuals and their families) need our love and support and dang it, an overhaul of our nation's mental health care.
And finally, I read this blog post from Ann Voskamp. For some of you it may feel too trite: God is there in the midst of this horror? And yet I know He was there, in the teachers who protected, in the first responders who showed care, in the nation's love and outpouring of grief for the fallen. And I also believe He sent angels to those who needed them most. And I believe He wept for them and He weeps for us.
So I'm going to accept that not much will get done today. I will grieve the loss of life, the loss of innocence, the loss of trust. I will grieve that our nation will get enthralled in chaotic debate about gun laws and responsibility, in placing blame. I will grieve that sometimes it feels as if there IS no peace on earth.
But there is. And there will be. There will be peace while I hear about the happenings in French class from Sophie after school. There will be peace when Kate plays "Joy to the World" at her piano lesson this afternoon. There will be peace when we gather our family around the Christmas tree tonight to read another story. There will be peace when I read an Old Testament story to Benno, snuggled in bed with his stuffed animal fox. There will be peace when my son and daughter play at an orchestra concert together tomorrow night, creating crazy beauty with so many other crazy beautiful teenagers. There will be peace because we will all make it and recognize it. It's how we survive grief. It's how we create hope: by being inside the blackness and lighting our own little candle against it.