I don't think this image will ever be erased from my mind. A young mother leaning over the body of her small child, caressing his face as he lay there dead. The child was perfect and angelic in the stillness, the acceptance on the mother's face, her hand at her throat. I sat reading the article of 250 people dead at the end of a siege of a school in Beslan, Russia, tears streaming down my face, my own small boy in my arms. It was completely incomprehensible, this idea of losing a child in such a brutal, horrible way.
My own son was a year old at Beslan attack. My sweet boy, who I remember holding during wee hour feedings, whose sweet sleeping face reminded me so much of the dead child in the picture. In those moments I swear I could feel the presence of thousands of women across the world doing the same. In those early morning hours, you take comfort in knowing that you are part of something great, something deep in your motherhood, that there is a presence of other mothers that holds you in the newness of this child and of this experience. Of solidarity, of love, of difficulty, of care and compassion.
And in those moments, as now, it is incomprehensible that your child could be taken from you in such an act of violence, in such a horrific way.
It is also incomprehensible what it must feel like to sit and wait, knowing your child is dead, knowing his body lay not far away, wanting to see for yourself and to start to put order to the distortion. My mother described to me once what it was like to sit outside of the emergency room, knowing that my brother was dead and wanting more than anything to touch his skin just to make sure. The waiting, the longing and the disbelief were almost more than she could bear.
I don't really know how to wrap this up, honestly. I just keep seeing that child from Beslan and the images of parents running to their children in Connecticut in my mind. And I think I need to just sit with the sadness of it all for awhile and then find some way to help untangle this vicious cycle of pain, violence and insanity that we are in.
Rob Brezsny offered some wisdom through my Facebook page this morning. It gave me a feeling of hope and ability to make change, even when feeling so helpless: