Friday, December 21, 2012

Healing

On Tuesday, the snow turned to rain, and the rain brought fog. The gingerbread boys went back to school. The youngest participated in an Ellis Island immigration simulation. The children dressed up in historical costumes, chose a name and a country, and with a lucky draw ended up in first or second class accommodations. The rest were shuttled like cattle into steerage.

The outline of a boat was taped off on the gymnasium floor. The children crowded together into the "ship," and one of the teachers read letters from passengers until they reached Ellis Island, heralded by the principal, who was dressed as Lady Liberty. After eating a snack of bananas, which is what immigrants at Ellis Island were given, they were sent to processing for medical, legal, and psychological questioning. You were assigned to be a Special Inquirer, asking the children questions such as, "Are you married? Do you have any money?"

At the end, the children performed choreography to "Coming to America," taught by the PE teacher. You stood there in costume, with other costumed parents, with such mixed emotions. Love for your gingerbread boy, gratitude for teachers, sorrow for others, pride for country, dismay for our society.

On Wednesday, you woke up not thinking about the awful thing, though it flitted through your head multiple times during the day, always accompanied by tears. You taught the eldest gingerbread boy to sew that night, in between making gingerbread cookies and cutting homemade marshmallows. He needed a costume. A whale costume. A whale costume with laser eyes. A whale costume with laser eyes AND stilts. If you can pull that one off, anything's possible. Maybe life will go on, you think.

On Thursday, you went to the temple. As you headed towards Boston, you drove past a mini-cooper with a vanity plate saying TUMNUS. Your eyes were drawn to it -- did it really say TUMNUS or are your eyes playing tricks on you?

Yes, it really said TUMNUS.

How funny. How ironic, since you've been living in Narnia the past week. The license plate reminds you that there was more to Narnia than winter. There were true friends and good people. There was Aslan.

When you reached the temple, it was quiet and calm, an atmosphere you've desperately needed in the past week. You walked from one area of the temple to another, and a woman greets you. "Merry Christmas!" she said, smiling as she opened the door for you.

You're momentarily stunned. Yes, Christmas. It's the end of December, isn't it? Christmas is next week.

You looked up at her. "Merry Christmas!" you replied.

On this solstice, winter's only starting, but the days are getting longer, and Christmas is right around the corner. Perhaps Aslan is even on the move.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Haunted

You are haunted by this enormous bad thing. Mercifully, you are given the gift of a snow day, one more day to keep the gingerbread boys home, away from wagging mouths that might take their innocence. You know you can't protect them forever, but from this, you must at least try. It is too horrific for adults to process, let alone the twelve-and-under crowd. Oh, they know something happened, but they are ignorant of the details. You pray they remain so.

You yourself have had nightmares about it; your usual nightmares never connect to reality, but spring forth the strange brainchild of a cross between a post-apocolyptic read and a snack that brings on unimaginable weirdness.

But this.

This is pain. This is grieving. This is scraping the edges of a possibility too awful to contemplate.

Even in your deep faith and knowledge of an eternal life and a loving Father in Heaven, you are stunned by this. Caught in the abyss between nightmares and sleeplessness. Caught in the web of societal pain that seemingly knows no bound.

You hug the gingerbread boys, and feel guilty when you snap at them for behaviors that should not be tolerated. You think, what if this were to happen to them? What if the thread of their fragile life were to be clipped--snip!--just like that, and you were left with the memory of your discipline, your irritation, your lack of patience towards them. The weight of your own long list of faults nearly suffocates you. You feel the burden of how you just don't meet your own expectations as a parent.

You decide to go for a walk. Some exercise will do you good. But you find yourself at the corner of the next street over, the corner where the crowded pine trees grow. Covered with snow, they look exactly like Narnia. And you find yourself thinking that it's always winter and never Christmas. Even with Christmas just eight days away, it feels like it will always be winter and never Christmas.