Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
Easter, 1916 ~ William Butler Yeats
For those who have lost a child, especially one of tender years, there are days that take on a more melancholy significance than most.
Early on, most are bad, numb.
Then the mail falls through the slot, and eggs or cereal or pancakes are made for breakfast, forks and knives are sorted in the dishwasher, or washed and dried by hand, beds are made, loose buttons are retightened on shirts with a needle and a thread. A respite of plain returns.
Forever after though, once a year, a birthday comes around, and you think, “He would have been 24 today.” And then you wonder, “What would he have looked like? Would he have loved art or chemistry? What would have been his favorite color? Would he have fallen in love?”
Or, on a an ordinary day (an ordinary day for which you are so grateful for its ordinariness), you bend to scoop hot clothes from the dryer, and a small sock shows up, folded out of nowhere, and you remember kissing the clean tiny wiggly foot that wore it.
You remember a song, sung joyfully. (Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, 6)
You remember a glimmer of hope on a Little League diamond. (Christina Taylor Green, 9)
You remember ice cream. (Veronica Moser Sullivan, 6)
On my bookshelf is a photograph of my great-great-grandparents on their honeymoon at Niagra Falls. On the back, my grandfather, bequeathing it to me, wrote about the engineer of the great bridge there – John Roebling. It was his son, Washington Roebling, who completed his father’s greatest project – the Brooklyn Bridge. He did so through a window.
“I remember reading once that the architect for the Brooklyn Bridge became paralyzed just before construction began, that he was forced to observe the goings-on from his home in Brooklyn Heights. It seemed exactly right. You would have to be trapped in order to pull off something as magnificent as that, to believe so deeply, with such absolute conviction, in the possibility of such freedom.” ~ Aria Beth Sloss
When I think of Newtown this early spring – of a missing Easter basket or an unwanted empty chair at Passover — I wonder what and how much goes on there through windows. What are those parents seeing? Must the entire nation feel their entrapment before envisioning something else?
How could you keep on shooting us so badly
While we are just nothing but children.
~ Ntshima Ramokone
April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech
FleetAdmiralJ, at Virginia Tech: Apparently just another shooting has occurred.
April 20, 1999 Columbine High School
Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.
When it has spoken, the case can not be appealed to the supreme court, nor any mandamus nor any injunction nor any stay of execution come in and interfere with the original purpose.
And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the most revolvers.
~ Carl Sandburg
“Scripture tells us, do not lose heart.”
“Too many children are dying.”
We are better than this.