Walking through the halls of my daughter’s elementary school today was not the same as it was just a few days ago. I no longer felt safe and happy to see her off for another day of learning and play. I felt nervous, checking out the older kids and adults as they passed. Holding her a little too long to say goodbye. Letting the small fears and doubts grow too big as I stood there and stared through the window of her classroom.
My daughter is in first grade. She is 7. The tragedy that brought the country to its knees on Friday hit too close to home for so many of us.
I know I was not the only parent to see the halls of my child’s school differently today. Somehow, we are all deeply affected and changed by what happened in a small town, so far away from our own. I guess deep down we know it could have been our own 7 year old that died that day. And again we are brought to our knees.
I listened to Obama’s speech at the Memorial Service on Sunday and was deeply moved by it. I am reassured and comforted by the scripture he shared in the beginning.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. For we know that if the earthly tent that we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
2 Corinthians 4-5
He then went on to talk about the children, the families, and that the country mourns with them. That they are not alone. That we all lost a bit of our innocence that day.
Life is not predictable. Much as I want it to be, I cannot promise my kids that I will be here tomorrow. Or even that they will be. My daughter is a bit obsessed with death right now (not because of this, she doesn’t know what happened), and asks me often when I will die and what will happen to her if I die. I try to reassure her, and I want to tell her that I won’t die. But we never know, do we? What I have tried to reassure her instead is that she will always be safe, protected, and loved. If I die, Daddy will be there to take care of her. If he is gone, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Whitney, Uncle Paul, etc. We list all of the people that love her and will take care of her. And that most of all God is still with her, and he will protect her and hold her tight. She will never be alone. She will always be loved.
Now I have to remind myself that God is here. For my biggest fear has always been losing a child. It can overwhelm me and take over my thoughts if I let it. It permeates my dreams. But I must continually place my children in the hands of God and speak words of trust and hope. I must remind myself that when I leave my babies at school, with a friend, at church- they are not alone. God is with them. He holds them in his arms. He looks out for them. He protects them when I cannot.
Some wonder where God was in the little school Friday morning. I believe He was there. He held the little ones as they cried, and He holds them still.