Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The whole reason I wrote today was to check in with you about the shootings yesterday, but then I wrote something weird and deleted it and then, shy, said nothing at all. But really, it is one thing to have an abstracted apocalyptic sense of things, the way I do these days. And it is another to live out a flesh-and-blood tragedy, a grief of senseless and unfathomable proportions. Which is how grief always feels, of course. But this--this is something else. I am so sorry is all I really wanted to say. Or maybe something dumb, like "Kiss your kids."


  1. Anonymous1:26 PM

    I am not sure exactly what to say, except that i am so glad someone else feels the sadness and pain that i do over this whole thing. Every time i hear about death and horror anywhere i feel sad, upset, and outraged. Yet, there is something so wholly terrifying about the Virginia Tech shootings. Maybe it is because everyday i see my little girl walk on the bus and away from me. Away. Maybe it is because my husband walks to work every day where he is a professor, and these types of senseless shootings seem to be plaquing our campuses. Maybe i should just walk away from the news and the horror as so many people can do. Maybe i should switch gears, and disconnect. But I just can't. Not with the war, not with Darfur, not with the homeless guys down the road, and especially not with this.
    (Insert a heavy, heavy, teary sigh here) I think i need to go kiss my baby now. . . Please shower Birdy and Ben with a few extra from all of us out here, too.

  2. yeah.

    mostly it feels too painful to think about. For my own sanity I have to try not to.

  3. My mother had a thing (still does) about us leaving without saying, "I love you." Her biggest fear was that we would walk out the door and she would never see us again. We were never allowed to leave the house angry (don't drive angry!). After having a little one of my own and really starting to pay attention to all the evil things in the world, I do the same thing. Kiss your babies and do it often.

  4. Anonymous2:25 PM

    The thing that really struck me was all those parents who would show up to the area to reconnect with their kids, but their kids wouldn't be there. There were, possibly, 64 parents who's lives were turned upside down. Then there are the parents who had to ruch to the hospital to see their wounded kids. My daughter is starting kindergarden this Sept, and the sheer randomness of these shootings scares the crap out of me! The Omish one seemed to have to real reason and so far they don't know with this one, either. Some of the kids that are talking to the press said the kid didn't say anything and was just indiscriminately shooting people.

    Anyway, Caterine, I think we should all kiss our kids a few extra times. That wasn't dumb at all. And we can all be happy for those parents who's kids were ok. Thanks for all you write and express because it's just what most of us are thinking, too, but can't put into words. Thank you~

  5. Anonymous3:30 PM

    Thank you Catherine for mentioning it. Many parents are saddened beyond belief today. It was sooo sad and I wonder, why does this happen? Where is the value for other human beings or even oneself. Kiss and hug your kids often, teach them to be kind but more than that, teach them to teach others. We all need to reach out to each other more and show each person they are special and valuable. Maybe then these things wouldn't happen???? I think, I hope, I pray....Peace.

  6. Anonymous4:03 PM

    I live just a few hours from VT and while I don't know any of the victims personally, I work for a college, have two young children, and live in an area rife with VT grads. Having lost my daughter's best friend (and her family) a year ago in another bout of senseless violence, I find all this very hard to take. All emotion feels false. I shut down and move on. And hope for the best for my girls. I don't know what else to do.

  7. Kiss your kids is always a good thing to say...those parents who lost a child would give anything to have that chance again, so we should take advantage of our wee little blessings. It isn't a dumb thing to say, Cath. It is so hard to find words at times like this.

  8. It makes my heart hurt and hurt.

  9. I go immediately to the minds of the mothers of all the victims. I can't help it.

  10. I am not sure there are any words better than, "kiss your kids" on a day like this.

    I have been following the coverage and while it seems small these families of VT are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Many of my blogging friends work at universities or schools and even while my own daughter is away at school I worry. Her class recently had a "lockdown" drill. I am still reeling over that one.

    God bless all the VT families.

  11. I was pregnant with the Boy when Columbine happened, and you know why that was especially scary for us. And then there was 9/11, and the Boy was a baby, and that was awful in a whole other way. And now he's old enough to look over my shoulder and read the Web page when I make a horrified noise and ask me why his school makes them lock the classroom doors now, and having to try and explain that makes it even worse. But still, still, we're so lucky. And that's the scariest of all.

  12. Anonymous9:56 PM

    Thanks for checking in. It is good to hear from you and the rest of the gang.

    I echo everyone else. It's the only thing we can do... kiss them and love them.

    And after reading the latest at Wondertime, I hope Birdy is well.

    (Yeah, I can't remember my password or login - so I'm anonymous.)

    Thanks, Jamie

  13. "Kiss your kids" is absolutely perfect. Sometimes it's all we can do. My mom also had the "no leaving without saying I love you" rule, and sometimes when I was a snotty high schooler, it involved her chasing me out into the driveway to scream I LOVE YOU as I drove away.
    But in addition to kissing my babies, I always try to use sadness like this as a way of focusing on what's really important. Do I really care about crumbs on the table or toys left out? Can the dishes wait while we dig in the dirt together, or while I watch him ride his bike?
    I just can't even start to let myself think about how those mommies must feel.... or I'd never want to let my babies leave the house.

  14. Anonymous12:51 AM

    I am scared -- I mean really, really scared. Even though I know that I have to at some point, I don't want my girls to leave the house. I want them to stay toddlers and stay at home with me forever.
    So senseless, so ugly, so random, but yet becomming too common.
    Yeah, I am scared. I am beyond sad as well.

  15. I don't think it's dumb at all of you to say "kiss your kids". When something awful like this happens, I just want to grab my sweet, innocent little boy and just hug him as tightly as I can. And kiss him of course.

    The Virginia Tech. shootings terrify me in so many ways. I am a college student right now as is my husband. What if something like that was to happen here, at one of our Universities? What if my only child was involved in something like that? If he were on a campus where tragedy struck, whether it harmed him physically or not? I simply cannot imagine how terriying it has to be for the parents of the kids at that school...

    I know that it just breaks my heart, though. I will go hug my son again, for the millionth time since yesterday morning, and please give Ben and Birdy a hug for me, too.

  16. These things, while tragic before having kids, have such a profound impact on me after having kids. It's hard to even think about without choking up.

    Yes, kiss your kids.

  17. Anonymous12:10 PM

    I was a high school teacher during Columbine and all the other late 90s-early 2000s shooting sprees, and being present for one was my worst nightmare. How could I possibly think fast enough? Save enough kids? Survive myself? Now I have kids and having THEM present at one is my worst nightmare. So one of the many heroic stories that made me cry was of the professor who barred the door while students climbed out windows, but did not survive himself. God bless him for doing what we all desperately want someone to do when we are not there -- protect our kids.

  18. I just teared up reading Nancy's comment about the teacher who barred the door while students climbed outthe window. It's just so hard to wrap my head around, especially since Monday was also my son's 3rd birthday and that morning we were at his school for his birthday circle which was truly one of the most beautiful display of love and friendship among people I've ever seen. And then when we got home later and found out what was happening in Virginia it just seemed so impossible that such events could co-exist at the same time. And now the questions I can't get out of my head are - what about the shooter's mother? what must that be like? What happened? I don't mean 'what did she do' I just mean - I guess I just mean that I don't understand. I can't stop going over the same questions because I can't seem to get an answer. Am I crazy here? Is it scarier now than when I was a child or is it just because I have children now? Were our parents just as scared?

  19. Yes, yes, let's kiss our kids and hold them tight to us today. And if they squirm because maybe we hold them a little too tightly or a little too long, let’s just kiss them again, tell them we love them, and let them go play.

    It's times like these, when someone does such a horrific thing when we're shocked out of our safe lives and made to feel so vulnerable, that I think of what Fred Rogers' (yes, Mr. Rogers) mother used to say to him: "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

    And it's true. One person destroyed 33 families. But look at the thousands of people who are offering compassion, love, and support to those who are hurting. If we can point to anything hopeful and good, this is it. We have to look to this. We have to look to the affirmative. Otherwise, it’s too unbearable.

    And maybe even more importantly, let's be kinder to each other.

  20. among all the people to feel awful for...I really had a wave of sadness this morning thinking about the perpetrators parents. Maybe they were awful parents, but probably they really loved their kid too. And he's gone, and they will miss him, and they must feel so alone it that. I hope they have someone around them to support them in their grief.

    I appreciate the comment about focusing on the helpers. That seems a very good way to be in the world.

  21. It's painful. And I think how senseless and tragic it is, makes it that much more painful. Reading the page that had the profiles of the victims just broke my heart, because they were these beautiful, wonderful people who's lives were ahead of them. They were someone's friend, sibling, child, grandchild, someone's parent. I called one of my oldest friends, and we both talked, and had cathartic cries together on the phone, and I told her that what hurt me was that in the blink of an eye, my daughter will be in college, beginging her adult life. And no matter what I do, I can't 100% guarantee myself I can always protect her. And that thought shakes me to my core. My heart truly goes out to those who lost a loved one on that terrible day. The only comfort I can find right now I sending a thought out to those who lost a loved one, and to hold my daughter and say "Thank you" for the blessing she is.

    I am so sorry for the loss!

  22. Anonymous12:46 PM

    So, in life's crazy moments, I usually find that my favorite folksinger, Carrie Newcomer, has some amazing words of wisdom (in a rich comforting voice)... in this case, I found these....

    "I am shaken, it's crazy and absurd, it comes down to what you love, not who you hurt."

    Maybe that is why showing love is a great counterbalance to the insanity in the world today."

    Oh, I can't remember my password, either, so another from anonymous.

  23. Anonymous12:11 AM

    Thank you for writing this.

    I read several blogs, and to see them keep on complaining about their day to day lives without so much as a mention of this was perhaps more painful than hearing about it.

    Even if you choose not to post your thoughts in full, I appreciate so much that you posted your sympathies.

  24. Anonymous10:11 AM

    In a strange but deep way, I feel the most sorry for the shooter. Imagine the lonliness and desertion he must have felt. Imagine living with such a tortured mind. I'm not trying to justify what he did, but he must have been a very unhappy, tortured person. He couldn't find happiness and peace here, but I sure hope he finds it where ever he is now. Let's all take this as another moment to teach our children and renew in ourselves to love one another. To not exclude people. To reach out to those who are so hurting, more than we could ever imagine.

  25. Somehow I think terrible tragedies like this one are worse, if possible when you are a Mom. We all think...what if that was my child at school?

    Can we somehow figure out a way to just keep them all safe.

    Sending prayers and thoughts to all of those poor families.

  26. Anonymous10:15 PM

    As heartwrenching and horrific as this event is, it (in a strange way, I suppose) comforts me to see that there still are concerned parents out there such as yourselves. It gives me strength in this time to know that there are, in fact, people like me out there...across the world, who still are in touch with the delicate values of family and treasure their children. So, in my prayers are the families, the friends of the victims. In my heart is the hope of you, and your active role in the investment of all of our futures. As mind boggling as this event is, I find comfort and solace in the good of the world. Yes, please kiss your children, but if you're reading this, then I know that you do...

  27. Anonymous11:12 PM

    I am still reeling from the death of my younger brother on St. Patrick's Day at age 44. I remember thinking last year when he first got very sick that I didn't want to live in a world without Randy in it. But then he started to recover and we thought that he had a chance and, even though he would have to get a different type of job, several offers came in and it looked like, for the first time in his life, that he would have a good, non-dangerous job. But instead, there were complications after the surgery that was supposed to fix everything and he died. And his wife (only 33 and only married for 4 years) and my parents and my other brother and myself are all devastated over his loss and all he could have been.

    And I think now, at least he had grown into a fine man that many people had loved and admired, and he finally found a terrific wife, and at least we had him for 44 years.

    What about those poor parents who only had their kids for 20 years or so and who hadn't had a chance to really make their way in the world or do the things they always dreamed of doing?

    I also feel sorry for the shooter who suffered from some painful mental illness, and his family who will never understand.

    But mostly I cry for all those brothers and sisters who feel like a piece of themselves is gone. Life will never be truly the same.

    My name is Kathy. I am anonymous because I don't have the strength to start an account right now.

    Thank you, Catherine, for all your writings, but especially this one. Kiss your kids for me. I have been kissing my little godson all week--sometimes he wipes it off, but he still loves me!

  28. Anonymous1:11 PM

    I have always meant to write to you on Babycenter or your new Blog... finally this horrible event at VA TECH compels me to do so. We've been doing a lot more hugging and cuddling at my house (my husband and I have two kids) since it happened, even though the little ones are much TOO little to tell them what happened. You, too, should just keep hugging your wonderful children, loving them as wholeheartedly as we ALL know you DO. And keep writing wonderful stories about them... your insight about parenting and your clear joy in your children inspire and entertain the rest of us... and make us feel like we're not alone in the struggle to be better parents... your stories make the world a better place.
    Teresa G.

  29. catherine,
    as a VT grad and a mom, I just want to say thanks for commenting on what happened at my beloved school. i just knew you'd say something that would make me remember why I love reading your stuff - and kiss your kids is it. This past week has been extremely difficult, but somehow, and I don't really know how, my 14 month old has sensed my need for a little extra loving- she's been much more cuddly and has started giving kisses all the time.
    They are amazing little beings, aren't they?
    Thanks everyone for the care and concern our school has felt from the entire nation. All of us, VT "family" or not, has been affected by what happened.
    Best to you all.

  30. I logged in on a sleepless night. I'm kept awake by the images of kids running through our quiet, typical suburban neighborhood playing their "war games" with "toy" weapons that look perfectly real. We just moved here from a big city, looking for an easier, more peaceful existence. In the city, murder was an all to typical occurance, but ironically I never saw the kids playing with toys like these.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who saw the "war games." (God, I hate to even type those words, so the best I can do is continue to use the quotes.)My three year-old boy was outside and took notice. I tried to quickly shoo him away and tell him they're playing big kid games, but now I'm lying awake wondering how I begin to tell a 3 yr-old that guns are dangerous, what they are capable of, what dying is, how these toys look exactly like the real thing that are probably nearly as available in our neighbors' homes. (Locked gun cases are of no solace to me. When my son can figure out at two how to play his favorite DVD, I don't think a little lock is much match for an 8 or 9 year-old.)

    I wonder with the VT shootings still so fresh in our minds how other parents (my neighbors) can go on and not be terrified and let these games continue. I'm not judging (at least I hope not); I really geniunely want to know how to live outside this neurotic existence. And I'm not so naive as to think that forbidding violent games will end violence. As others have mentioned, it must have been an inconceivably sad, lonely, angry life for the shooter. But still...

    So I log on, looking for what my soul sisters are thinking. But first, today's headlines appear on my homepage, and there are more senseless shootings in a mall in Kansas City. Where I live. In a mall I've been to. Right about the same time I was whisking my son away from the war games.

    So there is no solace, and frankly Catherine, I'd be happy to hear the apocolyptic entry you deleted, because then I wouldn't feel so alone in my winding thoughts that always seems to go to that scary place. It seems that more and more I wonder what kind of world I've brought my son into, and I almost feel cruel. But what would the world be WITHOUT his incredible joy? OUR collective joy?

    So besides the extra kisses for my son, all I can do is wipe away my tears and try to be the change I desire.

    Thank you so much, Catherine, for always baring your soul and for bringing us all together. And thanks to everyone for sharing and loving your kids so much.

    Karen C in KC