It’s been four days, and we’re still wrestling with the what-ifs, the why-me’s, the why-thems. We’re still piecing together what we saw. Still trying to understand. I’m still not sure if there are answers to all the why’s. And that’s ok. We can’t let our minds dwell on questions without answers. We shouldn’t dive into that dark well without a bottom. You can get lost in there.
Tatum asked about the news today on the way to school. We’re back home now, back to our routines and she’s curious. After the tragedy, she flew through a range of emotions; fear, anger, heartache, elation, a weird cocktail that we’re all sifting through. I don’t think she’s dealt with much guilt, and that’s good. Too many of us leave situations like Saturday wondering why them and not me and that question turns into guilt, but we shouldn’t feel guilty that we walked away when others didn’t. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for surviving the senseless act of another. We shouldn’t…but we do. We shouldn’t simply walk away and not look back, either. We need to learn how to embrace the emotions rather than bury them to see if they go away. Better to work it out before it goes too deep.
So Tatum asked about the news, she knows that’s part of my routine, too. “Was there any news about the crash this morning?”
“Not this morning, buddy. They didn’t have anything new to report.”
And then she asks a follow up. “What about the ones who died? Did they share anything about them?” And we enter into it. I let her know what I can. What I know. And that’s not a whole lot, yet. I tell her about the four that have died so far, and that they are concerned about one more. I let her know of the stories, how they are saying that one of those that died pushed a little girl out of the way. She was a hero. I tell her about all the heroes that day, about grandma Connie holding a little boy’s hands, consoling him until help could arrive. About Gpa lending a hand where he could. I tell her about the strangers in the crowd kneeling beside the hurt and wounded, holding hands, praying, helping. I tell her about one of the young men who dresses up as Pistol Pete getting that same little boy that grandma Connie consoled to the hospital in his truck.
“What about the girl in the car? Did she die, too?” And we enter into that. I let her know that she didn’t. That she walked away. I let her know that they are pretty sure she did it on purpose. That it wasn’t an accident, but like me, she can’t imagine why somebody would do something like that on purpose.
When I drop her off, I tell her to focus on the heroes that day and to not think too much about the girl in the car. She turns to me on the way out the door and says, “You want to know who my heroes were that day? My family.” And then she’s out, scampering down the sidewalk towards the gate. She’s on a mission to get to the book fair before school starts. She’s happy to be back at school. Elated. So am I.
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