Saturday, December 15, 2012


The sun came up today and I can hardly believe it.

Yesterday a bunch of kindergartners went off to school.  In the morning, they were all C.  By the afternoon, 20 of them were lost forever, just like R.

It's just like that, a tightrope that runs right through the divide between joy and despair and you never know when you'll fall off the wrong side.

I am so angry and bewildered and heartbroken for the children and their parents and siblings and grandparents and the teachers.  Why?  Why?  How?

It is a long road that those families face now.  They will learn the true meaning of words like never and forever.  For the first time, they will find themselves using words like despair, misery, agony with no trace of hyperbole.

And, friends, you who have seen your babies laid out in the funeral home and gone through the exercise of positively identifying your child ahead of cremation or burial--I know that you are feeling every bit of the sadness radiating out from Newtown today.  You are all on my heart.    This is so, so painful.


My daughter died and it was soul-crushing, mind-numbing, world-ending sadness.  But she died from a rare set of medical complications while surrounded by dozens of people working frantically to save her.  There are people who go to work everyday and try to figure out how to vanquish NEC and TTTS--maybe not as many as I'd like. Imagine if the doctors in the NICU had just thrown up their hands and said, "Oh, disease will always be out's people who really kill people we just have to move on together and rise above this."

I understand the concepts of grace and humility.  I know that we will all die someday and that knowledge is what ought to unite us and strengthen our love for each other.  But there is a limit to what I'm willing to accept.

There are people who go to work everyday looking for a way to stop the disease that killed my daughter.  Maybe not as many as I would like but it's a start.  You know what no one is doing?  No one is out there trying to figure out how to make NEC kill people faster or defending its right to exist no matter what the cost.

314 million Americans and 300 million guns.  2 semi-automatic handguns, 100 rounds fired, 6 dead teachers, 20 dead kindergartners.  1 shooter, 20 dead kindergartners.

Add them to the list of other victims of mass shootings in America.  Hell, limit yourself to the past two years if you can't remember back further.

A couple of months ago, a police officer in a neighboring town was murdered with a sniper rifle.

It's inconceivable.  Unacceptable.

Add the number of representatives of the United States swaggering around the world, bristling with weaponry acting this life that we share, like relationships between humans who love their families and their homes, are all living in a reenactment of a fucking John Wayne movie.

I have friends and family members who own semi-automatic handguns.  They say that they will use them to keep their families safe.  How will your handgun help when it takes a handful of minutes to slaughter your children while they're at school and you're at work or at home folding the laundry?  How? Why?


We talk about rights and distrust of the government and stockpile enough weapons to kill everyone on the planet 10 times over.

We must do better.

The sun came up today.  20 children will not see it.  They will never do anything ever again. And I just want to ask everyone I can find--is it worth it?

NOTE:  Since I published this post, the news outlets have changed some of the information.  The 20 children were first-graders.  At least 7 of them were murdered with a Bushmaster rifle.  And I read on Salon that it's actually 310 million non-military firearms for 314 million Americans.  The bottom line, however, remains the same.


  1. Yes to every last word, Tracy. I could not, cannot stop crying for these families, this community. I am so sick of the platitudes, the "we stand with . . . " blah blah blah. I feel like a jerk and sound like one too.

    But guess what? None of it matters, those families are just devastated and all the keeping them in our thoughts won't bring those lost ones back.

    And the gun argument? I'm tired of it, tired of being on what I think is the side of sanity and yet still people have access to weapons designed to do nothing but kill. It makes no sense.

    Ugh. I'm sick about it all.


    1. I'm really torn between feeling completely gutted and unable to take any action and dropping everything to work on nothing but this issue. I'm also so tired of this unproductive conversation that we have in this country. And the empty assurances that we give to each other while still remaining so completely detached from each other.

      I don't know. I don't know.

      Best to you and yours.


  2. YES! Yes to everything you wrote. We are so distraught here. I can't quite describe it. It feels not about me at all, and yet I am clearly mourning for all of humanity. My god, the sheer idea that an entire kindergarten class is wiped out is almost too much for my brain to comprehend. It is like looking at the Grand Canyon, I can only look for 3 second intervals. But I feel like it is important to stare at that. This is what we have taught our children about emotions, or not taught them. I keep thinking about something I heard on NPR--if it happens in Newtown, no town is safe. And that is just the point, no town is safe. This is not about poverty, or drugs, or race, or religion. We can no longer move away and gate it out of our life. We must deal with how we teach young people about aggression and anger and rejection and isolation. Sorry to rant. And then the gun issue, of course, but I grew up with a gun, and never once considered using it, not because I'm better, but because I was taught how to deal with my emotions. I'm grieving though. With the country. xo

    1. They're saying now that they were first-graders. Not that that makes it any better but I suppose that I should strive for accuracy.

      You're right. It's time for some difficult decisions and conversations. We can't just sweep this under the rug and move on relieved that it wasn't our kids...this time. How do we make people care about each other? How do we bring our young men back from this brink that they're on? It's everyone's problem and there's no way to solve it without dealing with it head-on, no matter how unsavory.

      But in the meantime I think we have to figure out a way to make guns that are designed for killing less accessible. Because young people, even the ones who are raised right, do stupid things all of the time.

      And so the gun thing. I'm not asking that last question from a place of superiority. I want an honest answer from the gun owners of the world because I've never owned a gun and never felt like I needed to or wanted to own one. I'm not asking it snidely or judgmentally. I really want to know where the line is for people who believe that gun ownership is vital. How can we accommodate them and keep our children safe? Can we accommodate them? What are they willing to give up or do differently to make it impossible for people to slaughter children with legally-purchased firearms? Is there a way to do this?

      I think that gun owners are the only ones who can answer these questions and develop the solution to our mass shooting problem.

    2. I don't think gun owners know any more than anyone. Gun owners find this kind of violence as nauseating and horrific as non-gun owners. This cycle of violence and self-protectionist bullshit perpetuates the need people feel to buy guns. A kind of hyper self-interest that trumps looking at the betterment of the whole society. I would guess most gun owners and non-gun owners alike want to design our gun ownership laws to protect innocent people from being murdered and hurt as well as prevent psychopaths from owning weapons. This guy stole the guns from his mother, who may have owned her guns to protect herself from her son. It is a vicious cycle based on not treating the problem of a mentally unstable person. I am just naming the issues I see, and the reasons I feel changing gun control, while necessary, won't necessarily change horrific scenes of mass murder. Would gun control laws worked here? I just don't know. He broke the gun laws. And that is the thing with gun laws, they are designed to protect against this happening, but someone willing to murder 20 children, seven adults, isn't really worried about breaking a law about gun ownership. And i know the argument is that maybe he committed this crime, because he knew where to get guns, but Tuesday, he tried to buy his own. If his mother didn't own guns, would he have stopped? Maybe? Maybe he would have broken into a gun shop, or stolen from someone instinct is to immediately say if his mother didn't own guns, this would have never happened, but I just don't know that.

      Here is where I get stuck with gun laws--if we eliminate every gun owned by private citizens, then only the military, police, and the government own guns. Do you trust those people enough for that to be true? I don't know how I feel about that question myself. Just putting it out there.

      Honestly, I think the issue resides more in mental health, health insurance, and teaching emotional health to others. What are we teaching our children about anger? About emotional well-being? Psychopaths will find guns if they want to use them. And yes, intuitively, I agree that limiting the number of guns in the country will seem to limit these murders, but fuck if I know that. On Friday a man in China went into an elementary school and stabbed 22 Chinese children. While I agree that guns kill more efficiently than knives, I'm just saying that violent, sick people will be violent and sick. I'd rather focus on treating the people wielding guns and knives on our children, than the impossible task of eliminating every weapon, or possible weapon, from the country.

      Hopefully, I'm not starting a huge argument here, just thinking about this a great deal, particular in relation to gun laws.

    3. I think that this is exactly the type of productive conversation that we need to have. Anyone else who's reading along, please, share your thoughts.

      Angie, I don't think that we're that far apart on this. I want to know what gun owners think not because I'm placing the blame for this at their feet but because I don't have any answers other 'no guns for anyone (military and police included) ever anywhere.' I don't want a gun and I don't care if I'm not allowed to have one but I recognize that a majority of Americans don't agree with me and that they have valid reasons for owning guns.

      I want to understand those reasons so that we can reach some sort of agreement on how we can effectively regulate the production and sale of guns that are very efficient at killing people. And I mean this for both civilians and military/law enforcement.

      You're right about mental health care and access to health insurance and removing our societal hang-ups about mental illness. But I don't know if you can/should force people to accept treatment for their own mental illness or their child's mental illness any more than we can restrict weapons.

      I think that both of these ideas are valid and they have the same limitations.

      Across the board, as a nation, how much liberty are we willing to sacrifice to protect life?

      The longer I think about this, the more I'm starting to believe that massive fortification of school security is the only workable solution. C's classroom is the first classroom that visitors to her school pass. If this had been her school, she would have been among the victims. And maybe I'm working from a place of fear and that's unhealthy but goddamn it, I'm afraid.

      Thank you for your input. As always, I respect your opinion and file everything you say in the "important stuff" section of my brain.

    4. I thought this article was really interesting, insightful, important.

  3. I feel I probably shouldn't really chime in, this is not my country, but I want you to know I agree with every word. I don't get the gun thing, I don't get it at all. In 1996 a crazy man killed 35 people at a quiet and beautiful tourist destination on our island state of Tasmania. We dramatically changed our gun laws after through an amnesty and gun buy back program and our gun crimes have dramatically decreased. I don't understand why anyone needs to own a gun like that. I don't even agree with hunting (don't hate me, American friends). And anyway, when your constitution was written, these sort of deadly weapons weren't even around. Surely even hunters can't argue that they need these guns for hunting, as it seems the only things they are designed to hunt are other humans. And do people really need them for protection and self defence? It seems the only real need in that instance is from other lunatics carrying a gun, and even then in most cases it would be too late. This guy carried out his awful deeds so fast. And I also agree that at the heart of it all, there are young men out there who are so broken and so angry with the world, that so much needs to happen with mental health care, that I really don't even know where to start with talking about that (and as I said, it is not my country, so I'm not really going to try). I don't pray, but in my own non-religious sort of way, I am praying for your country right now. This still feels close to home. It is a small world, and we're all hurting. I can't get this out of my head.
    Thanks for writing this. One of the more level headed and intelligent things I've read on the tragic topic xo

    1. Given that state boundaries are just constructs, I don't really have a problem with anyone weighing in on this issue or my post. Because, how will we ever get there if we don't shed as much light on it as possible? I've spent my entire life in the US and I don't understand how we got where we are today. Buybacks and amnesty seem like sensible solutions (have always seemed like sensible solutions) to me too but, shockingly, I seem to be a member of the minority on this issue.

  4. Thank you for these words, Tracy. It brings me almost to the point of despair that it is so very easy for someone to cause so much terrible pain and so hard for us as a country and a society to come together to find ways to make that less easy.