Yesterday, like most Americans, I heard the news about the shooting in Newtown and responded with pure horror. I just couldn't even quite wrap my mind around it. I felt numb, sickened, like throwing up. I sat there blinded and just not ready to admit what had happened. For some reason, I felt compelled to decorate the Christmas tree. As I put on the angel and peace and manger ornaments, I cried, with the news on in the background. I kept thinking of a line from my favorite Christmas carol---"I Heard the Bells"---the line that says
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
It can feel that way, a lot of times. There is evil in the world. We can't understand it, we can't quite even grasp it. But it's there. However, I truly believe there is more good than evil, much more good than evil. I see it every day, with the people that care for Janey, that love her. I see it in Janey herself---an innocence that will never go away. I see it all over.
Of course, my mind went where I wish it hadn't. What if it had been Janey at that school? I saw the pictures of children leaving the school in a line, and thought about how Janey would not understand orders to do that, that the noise of bullets (and how sickening to even have to picture this) would scare her, how she would scream if a class was trying to be silent to avoid being shot (and why, why do we even have to think of such things?) I thought of how she can be confused and overwhelmed by the smallest things, and I cried.
However, I also thought about how Janey will never really understand evil. I heard advice on talking to your young children about the shooting, and I felt an odd relief that I didn't need to do that. Janey knows nothing of what happened, and she won't. Her autism protects her from some of the worst of life.
The day ended on another note, a very happy one. William got his first college acceptance letter! It was to Clark University. He is applying to 13 other schools, and so hopefully this is the first of more, but the first letter is a huge deal. We hugged him and cried for happiness. I remembered the little boy that long ago carried a (wrong) diagnosis of autism, the boy who struggled for years, and who was helped beyond measure by the love of good teachers and (I hope) our love of him, and his own strength. It felt like another reason to hope---that love and caring can work. I am so proud of him.
And we go on, trying to understand a crazy world. We hold our children and wish for them a life free of hate and evil, a life where love triumphs.