We All Just Want to Be Safe

Posted On: 12.14.12

It was a New York City moment. I was in the back of a yellow taxi cab, cuddling Middle Girl. It was just after her soccer class and she was tired and nuzzled into my side as we zipped to the East Side to pick up her big sister from school. The driver said something to me.

This world is crazy.

And I smiled and nodded. Humored him. He looked back, through the divider and fixed me with his eyes. You heard about the school shooting, right? Somehow, I hadn’t. I didn’t know that earlier this morning as I was sipping my coffee and writing words and pondering life and Christmas gifts, there was unspeakable tragedy going on not far from me. In a school.

We talked about this, this taxi driver and me, and he provided vague details. A young man. Lived with his father. His mother worked at the school. My little girl perked up. Asked me what happened. Don’t worry, sweetie, I said. A guy hurt his knee. Not sure where this came from.

In front of Big Girl’s school, I saw my good friend, a fellow mom. We locked eyes and she asked if I had heard. I nodded. And then she whispered details: A Kingergarten class. I felt my stomach twist. There I was waiting outside a school, my beloved school, waiting to collect my sweet little Kindergartener. I felt sick.

I am home now. Sitting on my bed, processing this, figuring out how we parents and people are supposed to process things like this. The TV is on. A news conference. Details float toward me. Details I don’t want to know. Downstairs, my tired little girls are hanging out with our housekeeper. I told them I was going to shower. They are tired, but happy. When I left them, they were nibbling bits of peppermint bark I gave them and watching an episode of My Little Pony.

They are safe.

Before I got out of the taxi this afternoon, the driver said something. Stay safe. And I thanked him and helped my little girl out and on to the sidewalk. Before I slammed the door, he said something more, something that has stayed with me. A simple something. A true something.

We all just want to be safe.


Honestly, how are we supposed to process things like this?

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17 Comments for: "We All Just Want to Be Safe"
  1. Dara

    We gather in places like this, on Facebook, on Twitter knowing the majority of humanity is Doing The Best We Can with the Best Intentions.

    I believe today was a turning point in our nation.

    In the name of those precious babies.

    It has to be.

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Yes, it has to be. I am just sitting here with tears in my eyes watching little kids my daughter’s age talk about what they heard and saw. I am also watching bits of Obama’s reaction, the emotion plain in his eyes. He is a dad. He feels this in the same way I do and so many of us do. We take our kids to school and kiss them goodbye and say see-ya-later and tell them to have fun and learn something… This is just too much.

      I agree with you: It has to be.

      Thanks, you.

  2. I processed it by writing the following letter to my Congressman. Please feel free to copy and paste it and use it to contact your own representative. You can find your rep’s website and contact form here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

    Dear Mr. _______,

    I am not unique. And that is exactly why I am important.

    I am one of millions of American parents who want stricter gun laws. I want for my children to go to movies, and shop for Christmas presents, and attend school without the risk of being mowed down by semi-automatic gunfire. I want to kiss them goodbye in the morning without fearing it will be for the last time. I want to raise them in a society that protects their rights more fiercely than the rights of those who might harm them.

    There is no excuse for this kind of carnage. No ammendment is worth this price. I am heartbroken, but I am also ashamed. And until our government can fix this hideous and inexcusable crisis, we should all carry our shame with our grief.

    I beg of you to work with your fellow Congressmen and Congresswomen to take up the mantle of gun control, and not rest until it is resolved.

    Very sincerely,
    Gale P.

  3. AG

    Thank you for these meaningful words on this unspeakable tragedy.

  4. Tessa S.

    I am lost for words as I sit here weeping over my keyboard. I am a teacher. I am, yet again, saddened and pained beyond belief. Why involve children? It’s just too much to bear. I had enjoyed a lovely evening of wandering around the Christmas markets in Vienna (Austria), but all joy is lost and I am going to bed as I just cannot stay awake to think about this any longer. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who suffer as a result of the heinous action.

  5. I’m holding my baby son a little tighter today as I think about this world that my husband and I brought him into. I’m wishing for a better world for him.

  6. Thank you, Aidan, for this post, and thank you Gale – that’s one of the most powerful things we can do.

  7. maureen

    I checked your blog tonight b/c i knew you would post on this. I have been wondering all day how to process. I called husband at 2pm after i read the news. He was already canceling the rest of his day to pick up our daugher. He just wanted to be with her, but…

    Here is the big but..this morning it was tiring and tricky. I told Nanny to come late so I could walk both girls to school.. And you know what, I failed. One block up, I flagged a taxi (and folded the bugagoo – not easy). We got there and all I can think about is that on my walk home when I was fighting my headstrong 2 year old – other babies were dying.

    Tonight when I got home and hugged my girls all I could think about was the 20 (who knows the number) moms tonight that probsbly dropped their kids off this morning in a sleepless haze preoccupied by the upcming holidays and thinking they would all have a chance to relax with some good family time next week.

    Next week will never come for them. And I continue to be amazed by my blessings and never sure why this can happen

    I love your blog b/c it reminds me that some of us out there need to muddle in these truths. It would be easier not to, but for some of us, that is just impossible.

  8. Rachel C

    Today I sat in kindergarten with my Big Boy making gingerbread houses at the very time this was happening in CT. I remember how happy I was to be there, to be able to scan the room and see the joy and excitement and concentration that every little person put into their house. Bright, shining, innocent, beautiful little faces–just like those faces at Sandy Hook. It’s horrifying to imagine one little person being executed much less and entire class. It’s terrifying and heartbreaking. We cuddled and read stories and said prayers a little longer tonight for sure. 🙁

  9. I think we should all be left to our own devices to process and grieve. However, that isn’t enough. We have to be willing to have frank conversations in our own communities and move it up the political ladder. This country needs change. Major change. In gun control. Mental health. The way the media covers these events. And probably other areas I’m not thinking of right now. Grieving and processing cannot be enough – it’s time for action.

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