On Friday I picked up my daughter at school, and when I saw her smile and wave at me from line I started crying. My baby is safe.
This weekend both of my kids have been sick. Fevers. Terrible coughs. Noses running, and still I thought, “I shouldn’t freak out. My kids are alive.”
I took them to the doctor today, and both of them have tonsillitis and ear infections. We were stuck in an exam room for over an hour waiting for the doctor, and both of them were coming apart. I’m claustrophobic at times. I was freaking out on the inside. Over and over in my head I said, “Quit it you ass. This is nothing. Keep some damn perspective.”
I’m pretty sure most of us with kids are feeling a mixture of horror and relief right now that it wasn’t us.
It’s okay to feel that way. It really is. It feels terrible to feel that way, but I have to say-
There are hundreds of parents of students at Sandy Hook Elementary right now who are alternately feeling terrible for their neighbors and elated that their kids were spared. And they will feel terrible about it. They will catch themselves feeling grateful and then remember that for a few seconds it could have been them.
The emergency response workers will be feeling guilty because they didn’t get there in time to stop it. They couldn’t, but that won’t stop the guilt.
The adults working in the school will look around and feel relief and guilt.
Every parent of a survivor will feel guilt when they lose it and yell at their kids for doing something naughty for a long, long time.
Everyone in our nation with a modicum of empathy feels a measure of guilt right now. Guilt about watching the news or NOT watching the news. Guilt because in some form or fashion we just, as humans, suck it in to flagellate ourselves for having even a moment’s happiness and cheer (the noun) when others are suffering badly.
I joke about Catholic Guilt. I was raised Catholic. I know guilt. I know the feeling that everything I do isn’t good enough for some unseen ideal.
We are human. We are okay. Our feelings are our own, and what we need to do as a species is acknowledge that we are human. It’s okay.
IT IS OKAY.
And what we really need to do, no matter how badly we feel, no matter how cynical, how angry-
IT IS OKAY.
We are human beings.
We love, and we feel.
But right now it feels so bad. For everyone.