We rounded off Mousie's epic birthday celebrations with a family gathering this past Sunday afternoon. And, yes, like I guess almost every parent on the face of the planet in recent days, I looked at him as I held his lit cake out for him to blow out the candles and could only think of the families in Connecticut. All those candles that will now be blown out.
Here, we had a good time - presents were opened, cake cut, party food eaten. We laughed and joked. But it felt wrong. My heart was also heavy for a friend who has a very sick daughter, and another friend who is facing a very traumatic family issue. It is a terrible way to realise the truth that in the midst of life, we are in death. I think it is partly that sudden shock of the school shootings that most hurts our souls - I have wept over sick children who have passed away, or felt my heart crushed by the grim reality of war and famine but there is something so brutal and unreal about the way that death erupted out of nowhere into the lives of those families, that community.
It's hard to know what to do or say, but I suppose those of us like me, who are least affected by the shootings and can do least in the aftermath to work towards preventing such an atrocity happening again, have a responsibility to embrace the joy of everyday life with our children that the bereaved have had ripped from them by the murderer who took their loved ones' lives, and to somehow hold up a light of love and peace as a kind of beacon for the hope that rage and anger and sickness and death cannot win. My prayers are with all those who grieve and we have a candle burning for them: such an infinitesimal thing in the face of such loss.