Monday, December 17, 2012

December 14, 2012

When I was eight years old, my mom made a terrible mistake. She put my Tooth Fairy money out before I had fallen asleep.

I wasn't completely shocked. I had harbored suspicions for a few months that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't a winged fairy with a dental fetish who was leaving me those quarters. My mother only confirmed what my heart already knew. That confirmation was devastating.

I laid in my bed and sobbed. I remember my parents coming in the dark, asking why I was crying. I couldn't verbalize it. I just cried.

I knew that something had changed.

Something had started to change when my Siamese cat Friskey had been run over by a car the summer before. More racking sobs in the dark. And now this - there was no Tooth Fairy. There was no magic. I was so sad, so suddenly different, and so jealous for the child I had been.

My childhood was gone. My innocence had been stolen from me.

This past Friday, December 14, my daughter Maggie woke up and she was seven. She requested and was served strawberry ice cream for breakfast. She unwrapped a giant stuffed giraffe. As I drove her to school, she asked what time I would be bringing the cupcakes to her first grade class. She was ebullient in the backseat of our car, surrounded by her siblings who love her. "This is the best day of my YIFE!" she exclaimed.

She still can't say her Ls.

Strawberry ice cream,  stuffed animals, and the promise of pink cupcakes account for the best day of her life.

Her worst day? Probably that time when Netflix wouldn't play My Little Pony. Yes. That was quite traumatic for her. She sobbed and sobbed. 

My seven year old is innocent. She is utterly unaware of the majority of evil in the world. She knows that death exists, but she can't quite comprehend it. She's never experienced it. She's never witnessed anything more violent than her brother stepping on a snail. 

Less than two hours after I dropped her off at school, on the best day of her life, in another town, twenty of her fellow first graders were murdered.

All weekend long, like every other mother in America, I have held my child just a little bit longer. I've told her I loved her more times than usual. I've inhaled the still babyish scent of her hair. I've marveled at how soft her hands are, how tiny and perfect her naked body is as she hops into the bath. I've stared at her, studied her, appreciated things about her that before December 14, I had foolishly taken for granted.

I've thought too many times about how much it would hurt to lose her. About how long my body would rack with sobs in the dark.

But I've thought just as many times about how much it would hurt to keep her, had she survived. About how it would affect her to watch her beloved Mrs. Davis die. About what kind of Maggie she would become if Sydney and Noah and both Averys were taken from her, if she peeked out of the cracks of a cupboard as her seven year old eyes and her seven year old heart absorbed and were transformed by the unimaginable. 

I've thought about the other children of Sandy Hook, the ones who were not shot. About how those children, too, have died. They are no longer who they were, and they never will be. They are different now. All of the children dropped off on Friday morning are gone forever.

Their childhood is over. Their innocence has been stolen from them.

There is a darkness that hovers over our country and our hearts that seems palpable. But amazingly it is still invisible to my first grader. Also to her sister and brothers. They didn't notice when each of their teachers stared at her classroom door today and wondered what if. They believed me tonight when I blamed my own tears on the onions I was cutting for their dinner.

They seem to have made it through this Monday, the Monday after, without this particular lesson in evil. My children are still innocent, for now. My children are still children.

I am so very glad.

And oh, as my sobs rack in the dark, I am so very jealous.


  1. As eloquent and thought provoking as ever.

  2. you put it so well. i had similar thoughts as i sent my Kindergartener off to school today. i held him a bit longer, breathing in the scent of his hair. he just thought i was goofy. i too am jealous of that innocence.

  3. Thank you... this is exactly what I've been feeling too.

  4. This is one of those moments where the sovereignty of God is like a warm blanket... And in that way God does keep us innocent- like a loving father he doesn't tell us what is going to happen because if he told us everything our ability to handle one day at a time would be lost. Because perfect love casts out all fear :)

    "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world"

    1. But the cry of my heart is "Come Lord Jesus!" because the evil reminds me that this is not my home...

  5. A nice post, Missy. Hard to be calm about something like this, but you manage to capture the emotions without lashing out. I am jealous. For me, it comes out in anger. I appreciate your emotional regulation. Thanks, Chad.

  6. It has been so hard just being a bystander of this, I literally can't imagine what those families and survivors are going through. I am the mother of a kindergartener and a first grader and sending them to school on Monday was so very hard. They don't know either and we have tried our very best to keep it from them. But nothing will be the same. We won't look at a a school building the same- we had a sense of safety that has been shattered. There has been a police officer assigned to the children's school and seeing him there on Monday was such a mix of emotions- comforting and horrifying at the same time.
    Unfortunately this kind of thing is a sobering reminder that all we can do is put our trust in Jesus, nothing else.

  7. I have been praying over this response since I saw post this morning. I took a break from estimating jobs and though, "let's see what's up on that new blog I found". Maybe this response won't even get noticed. Maybe it will get deleted. Both are fine, it's not my blog after all.

    Before I came back tonight, I looked up innocent. Free from guilt. There it is. Plain and simple. My kids aren't that. Never have been. Are they wonderful and special? Yes. Are they gifts from God? Yes. They aren't innocent though, even if they look it as they sleep.

    I know what most people mean when they say "innocent" is that kids are a wonderful, frustrating mix of naive and wide-eyed wonder. Rightly, we say they blossom and we hope these little olive plants will grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We know the flip side too though. We know that we were sinful from the beginning (Ps 51:5, Rom 3:23)

    Like Leviathan launching full force from the waves, sin showed all it's power last Friday. But again, we know the flip side. In a few days we will celebrate the birth of the serpent crusher. The only innocent child ever born. And only with Him is there peace. He even said he would give it to us. This peace isn't just a wonderful-family-at-Christmas-everybody-gets-along peace. It's peace that passes understanding. Beyond tsunamis, earth quakes, hurricanes, and even massacres of precious children (yes, in and out of the womb) this peace will overcome.

    Where are those kids now? I honestly don't know. I know what David said about his child. I know what we are taught about covenant children. I know what I want to believe. I know that I can trust Christ to work his will and be glorified. I know that I need to look to the fields where He has placed me, because they are rip for harvest. There are hurting survivors of sin right in front of me, in my own house.

    Of course we must do all we can to protect our little charges. But sometimes that means protecting them from our desire to enjoy them to much. We must weigh the loads we put on them at each stage, but sometimes that choice is taken from us. If providence allows them to be exposed to the effects of sin then we must be ready to point them to the peace giver. The one who died so all His sheep will be presented holy and blameless...innocent.



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