I began the day picking out floor tile with my husband. I ended the afternoon huddled on the couch with my two children in our living room, curtains drawn, as the S.W.A.T. team extracted an armed fugitive from our backyard. Once the drama subsided (without incident, at least to us), I switched on the TV to see if there was any coverage of the event on our local news. That was when I heard about Connecticut. Twenty-seven dead, mostly children the same age as my own. All the moments of my day, some normal, some not so normal, suddenly became treasures to me. The kisses I gave my girls while sending them through the doors of their school. The coffee and cranberry-orange scone I shared with my husband before tackling our big problem of the day: how to refurbish our floors. Even the “discussion” we had over tile vs. hardwood. The oh-so-uneventful moment as we greeted our kids coming out of their classrooms, one carrying a candy cane and the other a giant gingerbread house made out of a paper grocery bag. I didn’t know what a joyful moment that should have been. Now I know.
Even now as I write, my youngest just comes in, plants herself on my lap, and starts talking to me like she is the most important thing in the world. This usually annoys me, but not this time. Today on the couch, there were a few moments that I contemplated how our safe little lives can become unsafe in an instant. When the moment passed, along with the police cars, I thought I had been wrong. Then I saw the news reports of other families experiencing the worst imaginable loss and I knew I was right. Nothing makes us untouchable. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility in this life. But God has given us today. He gave me one more day with my family, and for once it did not go unappreciated.
It’s too soon to find the good in the tragedy that befell those families in Connecticut today. But it’s not too soon, or too cliche, to go hug my kids. To realize that wood or tile, our house is our home. Love lives here, and though scariness sometimes comes as close as our own backyard, God is with us in the midst of it all. He does not always spare us pain, but He does live it with us. We want Him to pull us out of the trenches, not climb in with us. But here He is, choosing to walk with us through our suffering. Just as so many years ago, He set aside his glory to become a helpless baby at the hands of an unwed mother in a poor little town. Emmanuel means God with us. And He is, even when we wish we were in heaven with Him instead.
I’m going to hug my kids now.