Sunday, December 16, 2012


A writer I adore, Black Hockey Jesus, once wrote that "we are all made out of shipwrecks".  Man, that's an image.  Have you ever seen a shipwreck on the shore?  Car wrecks and train wrecks... they all get cleaned up, erased from public view.  But a shipwreck stays, forever, molding and rotting and junking up the scenery.  They are constant reminders of the pain and loss.  I like that image because that's how I felt yesterday.  It's how I feel about most of my pain.  That I am navigating the shallow waters, eyeing the shipwrecks of my past, dodging the jagged rocks.

My post yesterday was shared by a few friends who took solace in my feeble attempts to make sense of the senseless.  It's why I made the attempt... because words are my weapon, my shelter, my compass.  If they gave comfort to no one but me, I'd still be glad I wrote them.  And then this morning it was shared by a few relative strangers -- people who know me in only short spaces -- my 140 character friends, if you will.  And their words gave me solace and comfort as well.  For a while.

I went back to bed in the late morning, and I slept until mid-afternoon.  This is my fall-back.  I avoid the shipwrecks by never leaving the dock.

But I couldn't stay in bed forever.  I had made a promise to see my little buddies, Elliott, Brooklyn, and Kellen, and deliver their ornaments. 

As soon as I pulled up to Chris and Courtney's house, I saw Brooklyn and Ell out front with their dad.  By the time I'd gotten out of the car, I could hear Ell's squeals of "Deana, Deana, come find meee!" 

Just FYI, if you ever need to find a 3 and a half year old, just pull a Christmas gift bag out of your car.  He'll find you instead.

We went inside, unwrapped gifts (because they need to be hung upon the tree), and then were back out to play.  Elliott's new favorite game is Hide-and-Seek.  This involves me counting, VERY slowly, to four while Ell hides.  At the announcement of "four", he jumps from his hiding place and squeals in anticipation.  Which makes Brooklyn giggle.  Which makes everyone giggle.

I'm telling you, if we could harness the power of squeal giggles, we'd solve the energy crisis.

Then Ell wanted to take a walk to look at the Christmas lights.  Not to be left behind, Brooklyn came toddling behind us, arms raised, eyelashes fluttering.  So I picked her up, placed her on my hip, and asked Elliott if he was ready to go.  He said "yes" and stuck out his hand.  It's hard to be sad when someone so beautiful wants to hold your hand.

And so we walked, my tiny navigators and I, cruising the shallow waters together, making way for open sea.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It's been 24 hours since I learned about yesterday's tragedy in Connecticut.  Given 24 years, I don't think I would still be able to find my words to register my true feelings about what happened.  It's been 11 since September 11th, and I still don't have any for that either.

Grief is a funny and terrible thing.  It stalks you, hanging around just until you think it's gone, and then it rears its head once more.  Now, our country grieves again.  When I think of our nation's most mournful times, I see incredible things.  Heroes emerge.  Kindness appears.  Strangers connect.  And in those moments, the impossible seems possible, and change can happen.

Yet so often, it doesn't.  Or at least it doesn't happen quickly. 

All over my social media, there are shouts and rumblings.  And blame.  There's always blame.  Fingers point at the other side, and arguments occur.  Gun control.  Second Amendment.  Republicans.  Democrats.  Right-wing.  Left-wing.  The absence of God.  God's will.  Your fault.  The President's fault.  The shooter's fault.  His parents' fault.

Let's get real, people.  It's our fault.  And it will continue to be our fault as long as we, as a nation, refuse to meet in the middle.  It will continue until we all stop needing to be so right that we are all wrong.

But I don't know how to change a whole nation.  If I did, believe me, I'd tell you.  The trouble is, I don't know if anyone would listen.

I do know this, however.  God is in our schools.  You can't take God out of a school anymore than you can take him out of your home or your heart.  He is in my basketball team as they pray for the health of a fellow teacher's mom -- our #1 fan.  He is in my students as they refuse to break Fast for even the thrill of a Snicker's bar won on a correct answer.  He is in my moment of silence each morning as I pray for the health and safety of those I hold most dear.  He is in the mouth of the child who told me, "I'd never let anyone hurt you, Miss Naz." 

I get it though.  It's easy enough to blame the absence of God when tragedy strikes because how could God let it happen?  But tragedy is a continual undercurrent of our entire history.  The atrocities that one human can inflict on another are a daily, moment-by-moment occurrence.  And I don't always know where He is.  Admittedly, He and I have always engaged in a cosmic version of Hide-and-Seek.  My only hope is that He's with those who have been left behind, giving them the strength to survive now and live later.  Those are two completely different things, you know.  Surviving and living.

I also know that the answer to school violence isn't by putting a gun in my hands or in my classroom, as a few have advocated.  To be honest, I can barely find my own keys most days.  I'm not sure I'm cut out for the vigilante lifestyle.

The only answer I have is to love one another.  Listen when someone needs help.  Ask for help when you need it.  Let go of your platform and have a conversation.  Seek out beauty, and, where there is none, leave some.

And, maybe, just this once, we use our hands to help or to pray or to hold... but not to point.