Monday, December 17, 2012

Will You Join Me?

I wanted to say something, but I didn't know what.

I still feel so grief-stricken, so shocked.

I still feel so shocked.

I feel like my heart is in my throat.

I cry a little all throughout the day.

Just here and there over small things.

I've been having a bit of a rough time anyway, but then this.

This horrid tragedy that allowed some tears to flow.  Tears for what I've been going through personally and  for what I hope to god I never, ever have to feel.

I keep staring at my child in a new way.

A more intense way.

A way that feels like ... what if you were gone in an instant?  

Would I have looked closely enough that morning?

Would I have been kind that morning?

Would I have smelled you deeply that last morning?

Last night, while sleeping curled up with my son, I dreamed that he had somehow been sent into another realm, like through a portal.

I had this little gizmo, sort of like Russian stacking dolls, and when the last piece was removed he was supposed to materialize back.

Except he didn't.

I could talk to him, but I couldn't see or get to him.

He said there was another little girl on level 7 and he would try to get to her so they could be together.

I was hysterical and I couldn't get anyone to help me.

I woke with my heart racing and tears coursing down my face.

I don't know what to say.

Except this:  We have a mental health crisis in this country.

I firmly believe gun control will help, but we have a mental health crisis in this country.

I have a dear friend who lives in my neighborhood.

Her twin brother suffered a head injury years ago and now lives in the state psychiatric hospital here in  Austin.

You should listen to her talk about what mental health care is like here in America.

How she finally had to get her brother arrested, repeatedly, so that she could get him some care.

How the only way anyone would, or could, help her was when it became clear to everyone that he was a danger to himself and to others.

It wasn't enough that she told them.  And told them. And told them.

She had to use the jail system as her "doctor."

I spoke with her on the street yesterday and she later forwarded me this piece from the Huffington Post.

I beg of you to read it because it will help you understand what it's like to live with a child like Adam Lanza.

This is what she says, " I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother... ."

Here is her story:  'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother':  A Mom's Perspective on the Mental Illness Conversation in America

I bought the New York Times yesterday.

Did you see the cover?

I sobbed.  All those babies' names listed in a row.

Babies who were 6 and 7 years old.

Babies and the heroes who cared for them every day at school.

This is the list:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Benjamine Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6

Rachel Davino, 29 - Teacher
Dawn Hochsprung, 47 - Principal
Nancy Lanza, 52 - Mother of gunman
Adam Lanza, 20 - Mentally ill perpetrator 
Anne Marie Murphy, 52 - Teacher
Lauren Rousseau, 30 - Teacher
Mary Sherlach, 56 - School psychologist
Victoria Soto, 27 - Teacher

I know I can't do much.

I can write letters, sign petitions, talk, vote.

We must make ourselves heard, but the road will be long.

What I am doing today, and would like to invite you to join me in, is taking one name off this list and remembering that person every day for one year.

However you would like to do that.

I do it upon awakening.  I think of the child, their family, their friends.  I just think about them.

Will you join me?

Will you pick a person off this list and think of them every day for one year?

I took precious little Charlotte Bacon because she was first on the list.

If you'd like to, leave your name in the comments section with the name of the person you will be thinking of.

Maybe we should just go down the list in order?

I don't know what this does, or means, if anything.

It just seems like something.  

Something so we don't end up forgetting in a few weeks as we Americans, modern people in general, are wont to do.

We must do something.

PS I would also like to add this before it turns into an issue.  I do not believe that the mother in the Huffington piece is equating autism with violence in children.  She clearly states that many, many diagnoses have been thrust upon her child, but what remains true is that he is mentally ill.  Label or no label.  My personal experience is that I know plenty of children on the spectrum and none of them is violent in any way.


  1. I am heartbroken. I choose Dylan Hockley because I know someone that knows his family. But they are all in my heart and I don't think they will ever leave that place. xxoo

  2. Thank you Jody.

    Dylan Hockley.

    Yes, all the children and all the adults. Always.

  3. Oh dear, I posted a quite lengthy comment and it was eaten by the internet Godz. I am picking this up with Elias for the New Year, maybe you and Finn would enjoy it:

    I couldn't do school drop off this morning. Not sure I can ever do it again.

    1. Oh, Hillary, that is sooo beautiful.

      I love LovingKindness meditation. It is the essence of all, I believe.

      I don't want to take Finn to his little learning center tomorrow, but he wants to go. Maybe I'll just stay all day with him. None of us will ever do it mindlessly again, that's for sure.

      LOVE our boys so much.

  4. I am picking Victoria Sota because I to am a teacher and would defend my babies at all costs.

    1. Bless you.

      As would I. I would put myself in front of anyone or anything for my baby and any baby in my charge.

  5. I am picking Victoria Sota because I to am a teacher and would defend my babies at all costs.

  6. Do I choose the educator who is nearest my age and who, like me, has children and stepchildren?
    Or do I choose the one who is nearest the age of my step-daughter, who is a young teacher?
    Or do I choose the little boy whose twin sister was spared because she was in another classroom, the one who reminds me of my own boy who has a twin sister?
    Do I choose the one who fired the gun, who reminds me of my mentally-ill cousin (also too-early dead) who was lost to us for years because we couldn't get her the care she needed?

    I have seen a lot of heartbreak in my years as a teacher. As a mother. As a human. But I am just wrecked by this. Like you, I keep crying over small things, unexpectedly. I can't seem to find my balance--and finding my balance is something I've always been able to do.

    I don't know if I can join in. Today, driving my children to school, I had to turn the radio off. I just couldn't bear to listen to one more word. I didn't want my twins, big as they are, to hear about the funeral for the boy whose twin sister survived. I need to go to school tomorrow, carry on, do the work our kids need me to do. I don't know if I can do that and think about this every day.

    1. Peace to us all, friend.

      That twin set must have hit home so hard.

      I cannot even imagine.

      And I think of this ... the parent who had one child die and one child survive. There were a few.

      HOW would you even begin to think of coping with the living child when there was a child to grieve for?

      We are incredible in our strength, we parents.

    2. Yes, it hit. I am sure the answer to your question is: You just do. Because there is no other choice. Yes, incredible in our strength because we have to be. Glad you are here to help me find mine.

  7. I choose Daniel Barden.

  8. Replies
    1. YES, YES, YES.

      All I can say is that I think she was spared, in a way, by not having to live through this.

  9. I know it sounds weird but I think I'll pick Adam Lanza because he needed help and didn't get it. Because he needs someone to forgive him and think of him as finally getting peace. I don't understand the why but I know enough to try to feel compassionate towards him. Everyone is so upset and angry with him. Did he know what he was doing really? If he suffered from mental health issues would he really had known? What was his mind like? He was his own victim. I hope you all understand.

    I cried a lot and still find myself crying at odd moments because of this senseless pain.

    1. And this is why you are so dear to me.

      Because we must, we must, grieve for Adam Lanza because his desperate life ended with this.

      My heart is full of compassion for him and his mother and his father and brother.

      Bless Adam Lanza.

  10. On a happier note (if I can) I was so thrilled to meet you Michele. You are as wonderful in person as on this here Wabi-Sabi blog.

    1. Oh ME TOO!

      I loved having you here and felt as if we were kindred spirits from way back.

      Finn LOVED the earrings for his mentors. Thank YOU for coming by and bringing such joy to us.

  11. I choose Catherine Hubbard. I will ask my daughters to think of her every day too.

    In my garden, I have a decorative rod with strings of hanging bells and a stained glass heart hung in the middle. It hangs from one of my oak tree. Each bell stands for a person I have loved and lost...

    My husband.
    My mother.
    A former boss.
    My neighbor, Mavis.
    Sandy, my friend who died at age 5 in a car accident. (I was six at the time.)
    And so forth.

    I will pick one of these bells for Catherine to honor her. Laura

    1. Oh, Laura, I just LOVE that idea and am going to that for my very self.

      Catherine will be remembered with a whole family of loved ones.

      Bless you and all those you have loved and lost.

      Ah, life.

  12. I think I'll pick Adam Lanza, too. I feel like until we ourselves in each other, even the "others" who do the unthinkable, we will remain unconscious. And delusional. And, anyway, Adam could have been my brother, my nephew, and, under different circumstances, me.

    1. Yes, so beautiful.

      So, so beautiful. "Until we see ourselves in each other ... we will remain unconscious and delusional."

      We are all ONE. We are all ONE. We are all ONE.

      Adam could have been my cousin, my aunt, my uncle ... any of us, really.

      Thank you.

  13. Laura that is a great idea. I have bits of windchimes and bells and think I will make one for the children/ I love the part of "It's a Wonderful Life" that says - everytime a bell rings an angel gets their wings". And I think windchimes (and bells) are so magical. What a beautiful idea.

  14. I have been thinking about this all day. I will take Emilie Parker. Her piercing blue eyes haunt me and remind me of Spur. I thought that the first time I first saw her precious photograph and can't get her image out of my mind. God bless those precious children, teachers, and educators. This just hit too close to home for me imagining what my boys would have felt, seen, and heard had it been our school.

    1. Laurie, is that you?

      Oh I SAW her too and those eyes and that adorable name.

      Did you see the names of those children? So sweet and beautiful.

      I just cannot even "go there" to think of those parents running to the school.

      Thank you for taking a name.

      Kiss those boys and Rayner for me ...they're never too old to be our babies, are they?

  15. This is such a beautiful idea. I'll remember Caroline as I have a beautiful six year old niece with Caroline in her name. The exact same age as the little Caroline who was lost. My Caroline goes to school each day with excitement and is such an innocent soul - just as the lost Caroline was.

    You are entirely right about the mental health crisis. I don't think that nearly enough people understand that. I heard a statistic today that 1 in 10 Americans are currently dealing with a mental health issue either with themselves or a loved one.

    I'm so glad that you included Nancy Lanza on the list. I've seen many people and news outlets leave her name off of lists - and her death off of the total number dead. It's just shocking to me. She died a horrible death - not in just the way that she died...but by the hands of her own son.

  16. I know what you mean. I'm hugging you from Seattle.
    I have been staring at my daughter closer, too. More intent. I try to etch every line of her beautiful face in my head.
    So basically I'm an emotional wreck.

    I left our crisis care system in Washington b/c it is broken and I can't fix it. I couldn't help tragically, catastrophically, floridly psychotic people unless they were "a danger to self or others with a threat, a clear intent and a means to implement". I can't tell you how many times I turned people away from services for lack of funding, making too much money or too little, didn't have the right insurance or none at all, and on and on and on.

    We use the ER's and the Jails for mental health care.

    Our crisis system is broken. And I left it b/c I can't fix it. I left when one of my long time client's swan dived off a bridge after a judge let him go from our hospital b/c "he wasn't sick enough".

    I have been thinking a lot about the school Psychologist and I will think about her every day. Because she does what I do and paid the ultimate price for it. I work in private practice now. I will think about her every time I help a client. I hope the place she is is a calm place - a calm place as we are taught to try and make for the people we treat.

    Hugs and loves, lady.

  17. I choose James Mattioli for no reason other than my heart is breaking for all these families, for their friends, for all of us who can barely wrap our heads around this and in the hope that someone, something will change.

  18. As a teacher and a mother of a 6 year old, this tragedy has affected me in so many ways. I choose Lauren Rousseau because she could be me. I will also remember Benjamin Wheeler because he could be my son, and I will remember his family because grieving his loss must be unbearable.

  19. I too had a dream about losing my child after this happened. In my dream I was driving around a leafy college campus and trying to find my way to a babysitter's house, where I knew my youngest was supposed to be. But there was a gunman in a car ahead of me, and I could see him pointing his gun at students on the sidewalks, and I felt helpless either to stop him or to get to my own child and make sure she was safe. It was an awful dream. I hope our country will wake up after this and do more to help these mentally ill people who have such easy access to guns.


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