We Are

{First, and related enough to make sense: Voting for Clorox's Power a Bright Future grant ends in just a few days. You can vote once a day for any school project you like, and help kids learn better, play harder, or create bigger. It's worth the 45 seconds, promise.}

My baby was one year and six days old. I was a work at a 50's diner in Denver, right across the street from Veteran's Hospital and Bonfil's blood bank. It was a totally normal morning, unremarkable in every way. People came for their eggs and hashbrows and hair of the dog, my breasts ached from the remnants of milk my son no longer wanted, but my body didn't want him to be done with. Coffee flowed, some alt-swingesque band played on the stereo speakers hidden between the vintage lunch boxes that hung like garland on the walls, and two young boys shot and killed 12 of their peers and one of their teacher just a few miles away from us. 

We watched the line begin to wrap about the blood center, then around the building, then around the block. We called home to our children, because on April 20th, 1999, none of the parents of those children could reach the school, their children, or anyone - because no one knew how to handle this. 

Ray sat at our counter like he did every day for 25 years, sipped his coffee like he did evvery day for 25 years, and didn't make eye contact with any of us, unlike he had done for 25 years. I asked him if he was okay and he said two words before looking back down at the clouds in his coffee.

"My granddaughter."

She was fine, victim only to the fear and the lockdown the school went under that bright, sunny, perfectly insidious spring day not so far from Littleton, Colorado that we didn't feel it in our ribs, under our nails, far back in our throats. We were Columbine, and we still are. We all, together, wear that awful, horrible shroud that colors our lives in shades of dark, lurking fear of what could be. 

Two days ago I woke up beside the man I am so very lucky to love, wrapped myself up against San Francisco's bitter winter chill, and set out to buy holiday presents with him together, for our children who have always been an odd, unmatched and indefinable family but are at the cusp of become a real, bonifide, Dapper Dan family. We took awkward kissy my space self portraits, tweeted about our happiness, and in between refreshes of our twitter feed while we stood in line for eggs benedict and lemon apple french toast, I heard my friend, one of his and my first friends, say two words.

"My nephew."

She said more words than that, but I didn't hear them. It was 1999 all over again, I was too far away from my own babies, and this time it was 20 children. These children were just beginning school, not ended it. It isn't Columbine but it is in my jaws and my stomach. It, this, it keeps touching my life and I know, I KNOW, that it isn't for one moment about me - I am not burying my baby tomorrow, I didn't in 1999, and I most likely never will - but this has knocked the wind out of me. 

I am frantic to help. I am numb and I am aching and I don't know what to do except to write it out. 

I was Columbine and today I am Noah. We all are. We are Noah, and Newtown, and Birmingham, and each and every one of the children in this country who has died in their school or in their church or one their front porch for no reason whatsoever except that someone decided they should.

VDog asked me to help gather up some poems that her sister in law, and the other mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers could read tomorrow as the services for the children begin. Audre Lorde is tearing at the back of my throat, waiting me to stand on a corner and scream her words, as angry and broken today as they were in 1963 when four black girls died for daring to be black and go to church:

He is forver trapped
who suffers his own waste.
Rain leaching the earth           for lack
of roots to hold it
and children who are murdered
before their lives begin.

Who pays his crops to the sun
when his fields lie parched by drought
will mourn the lost water
waiting another rain.
But who shall disinter these girls
to love the women they were to become
or read the legends written beneath their skin?

We who love them remember their child's laughter
But he whose hate robs him of their gold
has yet to weep at night above their graves.

But I don't think that will help my friend and her family find peace in their mourning. So maybe you could leave a link to a poem you love, one that brings you peace, or speaks of the light every child on earth shines which should never be extinguished. They would like to read poems at the services, and find comfort in them during the dark times that are about to come. 

Other ways to help:

And if you are able, please consider leaving $1 for VDog's nephew's service and burial. A whole lot of $1's can make a massive difference. The family needs time and money to heal. $1 really does help. Thank you.

If you would like to send notes, cards, sympathies, flowers, or any other physical items, Friends Of Maddie is gathering and distributing all items to the family of Noah Pozner. Friends of Maddie is the non-profit set up in loving memory of Madeline Spohr, another angel lost to the world, and to our corner of the blogosphere, all too soon. 

You can pray. If you don't pray, you can think reeeeal hard in their direction. My friend, VDog's friend, our friend Dawn of Kaiser Mommy has posted prayers in Jewish (Noah is Jewish) and in Christian (is that what you call it?) and since I'm an atheist I'll just jump right in and say that it doesn't really matter if you actually pray or not, and it doesn't matter if there is a god listening on the other end. What matters is that we take all the long and stregth and glimmers of hope that we can muster and shove them east. What matters is that our hearts are here to hold theirs, and each others up. Call it what you will. 

We are going to get through this. We are going to find a way to make sure this is the last time this happens. We are not going to be complacent anymore, and we are going to keep our schools and churches safe for our children.

We are.

We must.