The Sounds of Silence

I know…it’s been a while.

There’s been a lot going on at home, and when I get a minute to breathe, which probably won’t be until AFTER Christmas, I’ll fill you in on some of the drama…

But, there’s the Newtown thing.

Things like that happen and I struggle, as a writer, with how to deal with them. It’s easy to take pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, as it were) and add your voice to the millions across the land calling for better gun control. Or mourning the loss of all those lives, but especially the little kids, the…LITTLE kids, the ones who were 6 & 7 years old, whose parents bid them goodbye that morning with no morbid thought that “today could be the last day I see my child.”

It’s like 9/11…whatever there is to say, has already been said. And so when I speak, it’s not to convince anyone of how sympathetic I am. It’s not to prove how deft I am with words, look at what I wrote, it’s so poignant and beautiful and is the best tribute EVER.

Sometimes…is it me? Sometimes, I get that feeling when I these tributes. It’s as though everyone’s fighting to be THE voice of the Newtown massacre – or whatever tragedy we’re facing as a nation in any given week.

Maybe I’m too jaded. Maybe it’s just that…people are so stunned that they have to give voice to SOMETHING. They have to say SOMETHING, even if it’s all been said already…

But the tributes pour in and the bloggers blog and the journalist journal and the anchormen anchor and somehow – to ME – it starts to become more about the tributes than the actual KIDS WHO DIED. And TEACHERS. And, let’s not forget, Nancy Lanza, a woman who, for a reason that we now will never understand, had semi-automatic weapons in a house and available to a son who, it would appear, was noticeably…disturbed? Too quiet?

Who knows?

I started to write about the madness of having semi-automatic weapons available to civilians who brandish the “right to bear arms” as some sort of mantra.

I started to.

And then…

Then I just said fuck it.

Not because I don’t care. I really really care. And I do think it’s appropriate that the people who can legislate on this issue start dealing with it RIGHT NOW, as they are doing, and not wait for the next BIG THING to happen. We’ve had enough BIG THINGS. We’re starting to get too accustomed to BIG THINGS.

But…I’m just sort of numb. Because these were little kids, most of the people who died, and I HAVE little kids, and as much as I say I wish they would never grow up I sure as shit don’t mean that I want something like this to happen. I can tell you RIGHT NOW, if anything like this ever happened to me, I would have to be put on suicide watch. I cannot even fathom that kind of pain. I start to, and my heart catches and my breath speeds up and then I have to remind myself that they’re HERE, they’re RIGHT HERE, huggable and squeezable and kissable and ALIVE.

Those parents can’t do that and I feel so awful for them and that’s why I am numb and don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to say. I know what I begin to feel at merely IMAGINING myself in their shoes and I know what they feel as they live it is way beyond anything I ever want to comprehend.

In the day or two immediately following the massacre, the media kept saying “there are no words.” And then they proceeded to use every fucking word in the dictionary to TALK and TALK and TALK about what there were NO FUCKING WORDS to discuss.

My silence? The silence of the past several days? That is my “words.” Writers and artists and musicians, we craft tributes with music and art and literature and use those to create stunning, sometimes breathtaking tributes to events that have moved us beyond belief. But writers especially, need to know when to shut up. Sometimes, there really ARE no words. Maybe there is art that can embody this pain. Maybe there will be music that will bring us to tears. But words…we use words every day to say funny things, and crazy things, and terrible things, and meaningless things, and it’s because of their very ubiquity that right now…

I have no words. Except, to those kids and their teachers and the principal and yes, to Nancy Lanza, the killer’s mother who was herself killed,

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.


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