Tomorrow at 9:30am marks the one week anniversary of what we thought was the impossible, something that would never happen.
The precious babies of Sandy Hook Elementary School and the courageous educators who gave their lives to protect them, are forever in our hearts.
I, like many in this community, have hugged my daughters a little tighter, prayed a little harder, and wondered a little louder. I, like many in this community and in Newtown, Connecticut, asked the impossible question - Why?
Is it just guns? Or mental illness? Or a disturbed young white male? Does it take away the false sense of security many of us who live in these affluent communities tend to feel, certainly nothing like that would happen here. Like Aurora, like Columbine?
My heart ached when the photos of the six year olds were shown, one-by-one, on the screen, their chubby cheeks and dancing eyes forever memorialized now. The terror in their eyes, their screams, the fear they endured are something unfathomable and something we can not describe. Who can stare down a crazed gunman with an AR-47 bent on destruction of the most innocent?
I am a writer and a poet and immediately tried to make sense of this event with the only tool I have - my words. Yet, even my words were not enough, poetry not comforting enough, essays not enough to wrap our minds around this level of cognitive dissonance.
The week of this tragedy has had the collective us questioning everything from the silence of the pro-gun legislators, the NRA, the Second Amendment, massive public killings, private murder-suicides, teachers, elementary schools, suburban communities, urban communities...literally everything that is a subtext of what happened and still...we do not know why.
Tim Wise wrote and talked about why young white males are not being profiled since they are overwhelmingly the ones who are picking up assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons, donning military gear, and taking out their rage on the most innocent of victims.
Huffington Post reported that both Dick's Sporting Goods and Wal*Mart were pulling these assault rifles from their shelves.
President Obama attended the memorial and in his first public statement after the tragedy, recounted all the other ones -including the urban deaths in places like Chicago - all with guns that should not be on the streets.
CNN and Anderson Cooper did a moving tribute for each and every child, each and every adult, making them personal to us, known to us - let's talk about them and their story, not the coward who took away their promise.
Kirkwood added a more visible police presence at our elementary schools - a symbol, in ways, that this community understands the fear of a public slaughter, we have been there already, our town in the list of others that have endured this unexpected end of the collective security and peace.
Tomorrow at 9:30am, there will be a moment of silence. The last of the victims will be buried today.
What will we do on Saturday? Will we go on with our daily lives and let Sandy Hook Elementary School fade into the recesses of our memory as the waning days of Hanukkah and the waking morning of Christmas greet us in these coming days? Will we hope for snow and take our children sledding and never pause again to talk about the tragedy, consider the semi-automatic rifles place (or not) in our society, go back to our safe existence?
Is the solution to arm teachers? One legislator said the teachers should have concealed weapons, locked away, in case this happens there. The gunman in Connecticut stormed his way into the school, shattered the glass, and mowed down the principal and school counselor who attempted to tackle him - if they had a handgun locked away, it would not have helped.
What does this mean for Kirkwood? Does Missouri need concealed weapons in the school? Is that the solution? Do we fear each other more? The few black males or the majority white males here? Do we put body armor on our children or do we cocoon them at home? More prayer? More private school? Newtown is an idyllic "American community" so is "Kirkwood" - or are we? How do we process this together? Or do we just shake our collective heads, hope it never happens here, and decide not to discuss it because it is not a comfortable discussion?
We still do not have an answer for "why" but perhaps we can have some open and honest conversations about "what" happened and "how" we can address "who" does this type of thing and decide as a community that we will be better. We have to.