Oh hell’s bells it’s been a long week. We’re on the sickie merry-go-round again here at our humble abode. Then there was Ash Wednesday mass, which I attended at my son’s school and during which I silently pledged to give up swearing for forty days, at least cursing in the presence or within earshot of my kidlets. I know, I know…you fall down and get back up. Then there was all of the Valentine’s cray cray at the kiddies’ schools and an annoying bout of blogger’s block. I couldn’t for the life of me nail down a topic for my weekly post. The lovely folks at Word Press try to help out by sharing Daily Post prompts and one of the prompts this week was to write about a character you’ve known. So, I thought I would write about my Uncle John, a man of Herculean proportions and Olympian spirit. I’ve lots of stories about him, some tender and poignant, some hilarious and so oft repeated they now border on lore. But I couldn’t get the feel of the stories in my mind, not without reducing my uncle to a caricature. I thought I could write about Bear or Goose again, I mean they’re adorable, right? But let’s face it, the only person – other than me – who wants to hear every little bitty detail of my little patooties’ lives is my mother-in- law, because she’s pretty sure they’re nuggets from heaven. Then I thought I might write about the bra fitting party I went to on Saturday. These ain’t the Tupperware parties of your mama’s generation. Why are these sales parties the peculiar provenance of women, I wondered? Men don’t host parties where you put stickers on your nipples and then marvel at how low the stickers are compared to where your nipples are once you’ve been properly fitted in a brand spanking new bra. But really, I didn’t feel witty enough to do the topic justice. So then, driving home from the party and listening to NPR, I thought I might write about how I love me some public radio. How I’m a liberal public radio loving nut. Or maybe I’d write about the butterfly effect and how each choice we make to leads to another choice which leads us to where we are at this very moment, like John Moe was saying on the intro of a rerun episode of his public radio show Wits. But, you know, that’s his shtick, not mine. I thought I could write about how meteorites are crashing into the earth and how, if I were an End Times believer, I’d be putting on my clean underwear and giving away my worldly possessions or whatever End Timers do when they think the End Times are nigh.
So, you get my dilemma. My mind feels a bit fractured and unfocused. Maybe it’s the cold medicine. Maybe my heart hurts some. A nine year old boy, Devin Aryal, was shot and killed on Monday evening while riding in the back seat of his mom’s car in Oakdale, Minnesota. He was shot in a residential neighborhood about half way between my daughter’s school and my son’s school. I drive that street regularly. Sometimes the kids are with me. It seems to be a random shooting. Everyone keeps asking why. I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. I don’t even know how important the killer’s motive or lack thereof is. Devin is still dead. The son of another mother I know attends the same school Devin attends. Attended. She said her six year old son will tell you that Devin died. She says the fact that Devin was killed is not a distinction she thinks she should have to explain to a six year old. She is right. My husband came home from work on Monday and hugged and hugged our babies. I thought to myself, “I will pay attention to every little detail of all their waking moments. Their sleeping moments too. I will be present and loving and cherish their sweet smiles and their stinky morning breath and everything in between. I will not take any little thing for granted ever ever ever ever.” And then Bear was all crabby and short with his sister. And Goose was tired and whiny. And all of us were filled to the gills with phlegm and coughing and wheezing. And someone had a temper tantrum and someone yelled and the heavenly nuggets were sent to bed early. I didn’t cherish like I promised myself that I would and parenting is so so hard and Devin is gone and the world is a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad place.