Monday, December 17, 2012


My primary role at work in the aftermath of 9/11 was to compile the names of the victims. List after growing list, which we published every Friday for months. It got so I could recite a whole block of names from memory, having ran my eyes over them repeatedly, and I kept reminding myself that this was not just a running tally; the list was fathers and sons and mothers and daughters and people who were loved and needed.

A newsroom is a tough place to be on days like 9/11, like Friday. On both of those days, the only thing I wanted to do was go home and be with my babies. But you put your head down, try to do the job well, and block out the implications. On those days, it's nigh impossible.

As impossible as it is to imagine yourself caught in the middle of these tragedies. I had a split-second on Friday. My boss came to me and said there was a shooting at a school. And he immediately said, "In Connecticut." But there was a beat. So brief as to not even be measurable, but in that moment, every slow-motion fear came rushing at me.  Every synapse seized. Emet is at school. AJ is at school. The baby.

I e-mailed Emet. I pulled up the website of the newspaper near our home. Just to reach out. Flailing. Tears and aching in my heart. A hundred times on Friday and then a hundred more on Saturday.

I was back in the newsroom early on Saturday, unscheduled but necessary. More names. This time, I had to find them. We need quotes, insight. Who, what, when where, why, how? Constant. And the list of the victims, the children, and I wanted to stop and pause and pray on them and hold those names, not let them just go on a list.

At the end of the shift, I met Emet and the baby at a sushi bar. When he hears my voice, my youngest son, Caleb is his name, he snaps his head around, smiles, and holds his arms out. I pull him into me.

AJ was at his Mom's this weekend, but I called him Friday night. "Did your Mom talk to you about what happened?"


"Are you scared?"


And I told him that was good, he should rightfully feel safe at school and we were both sad and I missed him. When he asks me why, I'll tell him I don't know. I'll also tell him that there's more of us than there are of them, more good than bad, and that's how we can make it better, by being better. To ourselves, to others, to everyone.


Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

Dawn. Victoria. Mary. Rachel. Anne Marie. Nancy. Lauren.


Another list. Another day where we shake our heads and wonder how this has happened again, rage and helplessness in equal parts and there's no easing of either. So you just put your head down, plow through it and honor them with works. Honor them by remembering. Honor them with extra moments in the arms of your loved ones and laughter and compassion and generosity for all people.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Our pastor told a story during this morning's service that just wrecked me. He said a girl walked up to the alter a few weeks ago and handed him a letter. Then she simply walked off. He read it and immediately set about trying to find her, without luck.

He read us the letter today. The girl is 13 and has lived in foster homes for much of her life. She's been separated from her sisters, her mother is in jail, her oldest sister is in juve. It was a litany of places, this letter. A list of cities where she'd been shuttled, residences she'd hoped would provide solace, peace, only to be moved elsewhere, five times in five years, sometimes with her little sister, sometimes not. And she wondered, at the end of the letter, if our pastor would pray for her, if he would help her find a place where she was wanted.

Because, how can you have any hope when there's nobody around who wants you?

The story itself was bad enough. The sadness of it came right into me. And I thought of AJ, how I never wanted him to feel that way when X split. How I never wanted him to feel unwanted, how I feared the fallout of our divorce would visit him.


I ran into Tony after the service. He's a friend, a sometime golf partner. He fawned over the baby and ruffled AJ's hair. In the midst of the conversation I tried to say something that I feel, something I am so blessed to have, and that's a new chance. I get to experience that love and joy and purpose all over with Caleb and I can appreciate and embrace it like I didn't get to with AJ. But I couldn't tell Tony that, because of the tears in my throat and that 13-year-old girl. I got out a bit of it, and he put his arm around me and we smiled at the baby and ruffled AJ's hair.

Walking out to the car AJ said, "Daddy, did you start to cry?" And I told him yes, and about the girl and that I was sad, but also thankful--so very thankful--for him and Emet and Caleb and that I'm blessed to always feel loved and--way more than that--that he has never felt the pain of what that girl wrote.


The pastor said the girl showed up again last night. Her situation isn't any better. But she has hope. And now she has an entire church to try to lift her up. I hope for my boys, but I can't guarantee happiness for them. Life is tribulation. There will be pain. But they will always have us, a place to feel wanted.