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7:17 p.m. - 2012-12-18
shell shock
I'm still fending off panic. I'm not sure if it's more or less than the last few days, over the weekend. I quit reporting four years ago, except for the occasional freelance story, but most of the people I know in Connecticut are members of the press intimately involved in covering this school shooting. I have no right to be upset because I am not covering it; my child is a kindergartener who came home on Friday. There is no point in being upset anyway; it doesn't help anyone and it doesn't bring back the dead.

One skill any reporter learns early, and well, is the fine balance between connection and detatchment. Connection is what gets you in the door, gets people to talk to you, and that writes stories that make people cry. Detatcment is what keeps you from falling to pieces yourself.

I've never fallen apart over a story, at least not for very long. I just ended up with a sense that the world is a very unsafe place. I stopped reporting mostly because I had kids -- no 1, I didn't think I could handle covering dead kids anymore, and no 2, I wanted to spend every single second with them because there might not ever be a "later."

Four years later, I've become a much more normal parent. I think. I put my kids in day care two afternoons a week last year, and this year Mar is in kindergarten and I was fine with it. Until last Friday. I didn't worry abnormally about her, until last Friday. When she got on the bus in the morning, I expected her to come home. And I noticed that, and I thought, I am becoming a normal person again.

Until last Friday.

And now all of my fears and all of the images and faces and voices are flashing back at me, every time anyone says something or I catch a glimpse of a newsrack or a headline online. I don't have to look at the pictures because I already know what the faces of the mothers of dead children look like, and what the limp bodies of dead children look like; they are seared into my mind and probably will be forever.

I took Mar to school today and let her walk in and leave me behind. She is sleeping upstairs from me as I write this. She is fine.

I have been telling A., who is upset, and Matt, that driving in the car is more dangerous to her than going to school, even today. I told Mar that sometimes people do very bad things and we don't know why, but they almost never happen and she is safe. Her school is safe.

I wish I felt as calm and rational as I try to sound. I don't believe anything is safe. Two nights ago I couldn't stop shaking and I didn't know why. I was just so cold, from the inside out. I couldn't cry and I was just watching everything from far away, numb. I kept telling A., "It's OK, it's just a bad day; it will be better in the morning."

Most things are better in the morning.

At least, after a lot of mornings.



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