I was at a business lunch when my wife called in tears. She was getting the car inspected with the radio on and heard the news of a mass murder in a kindergarten in Connecticut. When I hung up the phone the guys across the table from me, a tough-as-nails VC, said, “That didn’t sound good.” When I told him the news I saw his eyes well up with big gobs of glistening tears.
I got home as fast as I could and sat at the kitchen table holding my wife’s hand. We didn’t talk about much, just sat together. Before heading out to pick-up our seven year-old son, I checked the web once for news. I read that Obama had called the governor of Connecticut as a father not as a President.
On the drive to school I kept the radio off, focused on getting there safely.
He appeared behind the bleachers with his oversized backpack and a big grin on his face. He “shook out” with his teacher, a woman we all adore, and bounded over to me to beg to play on the playground with his friends.
A friend works at CNN. She started emailing me from the control room in Atlanta while I watched my Cole chase his buddies around the monkey bars. A tough lady who has done stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, she sounded shaken to the core. She talked about Christmas presents already under the tree of these kids now lying on the ground. Earlier in the day we had exchanged tweets complaining about Starbucks coffee and a preference for Peet’s (she is from San Francisco and I am just a coffee snob). She mentioned how long ago our little virtual coffee klatch seemed now.
My wife’s best friend and co-head of the parent’s association stood at a picnic table on the playground with tears in her eyes. I tried to cheer her up by talking about how well their teacher gift program had gone this year.
On the way home my son had his headphones on so I tuned into NPR and kept the sound low. I heard the first press conference when the authorities announced 20 children had died in the Kindergarten to fourth grade school. I listened to the police talking about he crime scene and the difficulty of trying to identify the bodies. And his plea to leave the families of the deceased alone.
I hugged my second grader in the flesh when I saw him and when we got home. Hard. And my 10th grader and college freshman, both taking their finals today, in my mind’s eye.
To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do.
Tomorrow maybe I will be able to watch more news, think more clearly, even try to understand what the possibly could mean. But today I can’t. I don’t undertand. I don’t know anything. I can’t do more than internalize the bare minimum of facts that confirm for me how massive the tragedy. And look into my boy’s beautiful, innocent, and joyful eyes and weep.