Sandy Hook isn't a political statement, it's where my friend died.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I have had a lot to write about lately, in terms of grief. So many opportunities to clarify a moment for other people's reading. But the time needed to grieve- that's another thing altogether. The honesty to write all of my emotions out, something that I can't afford to give away right now.

I can't write about my mom because our relationship was wrought with discord and moments of beautiful messiness. I have tried to get it all down in the past and failed solely because I was too worried about  the hurt that could follow. Maybe someday I will be adult enough to stake my claim in the parental tell- all blogosphere. But I don't think I will. My view is skewed by my participation in the events.

It doesn't seem fair to tell a story that is shared by two people, when one of them is gone.


I have another grief to share (I know you are waiting on Rainbow baby news... but I will have to work through this first).

I live on the East Coast of the US. More importantly, I live 20 minutes away from Newtown, CT. We here are still reeling from the shock of a gunman deciding that this was the best place to show his anger at the world. It happened the day after my Beatrix's birthday. Which is why there was no finished second birthday letter to my girl- it's here, in a saved post. I just lost the heart to finish it at that moment.

My friend was the substitute teacher that was killed.

Lauren Rousseau.

This grief, the grief of losing someone to murder is different than (almost) anything I have ever felt. Not worse, but different. More difficult to look at with open eyes in some ways.

This death is raw, a jagged open wound with salt rubbed into it. Nothing private and quiet. Her face was on the cover of People magazine. Politicians are using her life to craft laws and ignite arguments. It is obscene when realty TV creates a commercial moment out of your personal tragedy. She has become larger than life- her victimhood has begun to define her.

But for those of us who loved her, who still love her, she is much more.

Things about Lauren that you won't read about in the paper.

She dressed her cat for Halloween, walked it on a leash, and if you were lucky enough to get a Christmas card from her, you would see that Laila was the star in those, too...

She wasn't one of those people who took the teaching credits because she had a Communications degree, and wasn't really sure about where to go with it, so she chose teaching because it was a good gig. She was passionate about teaching, always telling me about new classes she was taking to improve her skills, about how much she loved her kids, about how happy she was to be working where she was.

She was in love. She wanted to get married and live the rest of her life with her boyfriend. They loved the Muppets, opening night showings of movies, and wore matching pirate costumes for Halloween. I am so glad that she found someone who made her so happy.

She was always laughing. Always. The entire time that I worked with her, I only saw her grumpy once- no lie. It was two weeks before she passed away, and I teased her all night about it, because it was so out of character for her.

Everything about her was upbeat. She had struggled with medical issues that could have made her bitter, but she always seemed to look on the bright side of everything.

She didn't stop talking. Ever. Once she started a conversation, you knew that you were not going to get away without hearing her opinion about whatever it was she was talking about- but 9 times out of 10, it was about her boyfriend, her cat, or her teaching- in that order. And those conversations were about how happy they all made her.

Lauren was one of those people who always brought sunshine into a room. No kidding- she really was the happiest person that I have ever met. There was absolutely no cynical or dishonest bone in her body. She was a very different type of person, and everything that you read in the paper- all of the wonderful things that people will say about her- they aren't the result of only remembering the good about someone who has passed- they are really how she was.

We will miss such a special person, and the world is a much sadder place today, than it was before she left it.

Something is lost in all of the media frenzy. Something is lost in all of the clever post- cards for and against gun control. Something is lost each time her image is shown in any context other than as a beloved daughter, the girl who just celebrated her first anniversary with the guy she believed was "the one."

Lauren was a rainbow baby. Her mother had lost a daughter in childbirth before her. This resonates with me, especially now.

Something has been lost for all of us who knew her.

I had a baby a week after I lost this sweet friend. A beautiful baby girl. While I am obviously overjoyed at her arrival, there was a small hint of sadness that my daughter would never meet my mother, or this friend of mine. Both losses so close in proximity to Beatrix's birthday and the birth of this new baby made for a very difficult time.

The new baby is beautiful. She is a dark haired, ruddy complexioned girl. I wish that she could have been welcomed with a no vestige of sadness.

But we now know that there is no such thing as life with no vestige of sadness.

So we keep marching on. We make the choice to smile and to love again.

We hold our children close and try to keep them safe from bad people. We make the decision to keep moving forward and living our lives and risking love.

On December 21st, I once again found love.

Love's name is Matilda.

She had some minor problems at birth, which required a NICU stay. I had some problems too- but that's for another day.

She is happy. She is more than I ever imagined a baby could be. She is a heart healer.

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