I know it's irrational, but I blame myself. Just the week before, I was sitting outside the chicken coop, and I exhaled. It was one of those deep sighs that lets your shoulders sink down, away from your ears.
"This is my favorite place," I said, "it feels safe here."
Some time last week, in the dark hours when Sunday was turning into Monday, a fox found the chicken coop. It discovered a tiny gap between two sections of fencing on the roof, pushed it aside, and flowed in like smoke. There it slaughtered most of the chickens, eating one, and leaving the remains of five others scattered. Two survived, two of the original four, including the light colored one who is named Nip-Nip and is everyone's favorite. She lost an eye, but she will be okay.
When Mom told me, I put my head on her shoulder and wept.
"I know it sounds ridiculous," I said, "but they were the best part of my life right now."
She held me and said what she could, but really, what can you say?
That is also what I would ask the public officials who keep urging those of us who live here, near the site of the movie shootings, to talk to our children.
I am absolutely willing to talk to my children. Kindly tell me - what do I say? It was completely random...but don't worry, it won't happen to you? No one saw this coming...but it certainly won't happen again?
That theater is the one we go to. Clay and Raphi and Sophia and my mom were there last Sunday. Friends and neighbors were there for the shootings. No one we know died. No one we know is untouched. What on earth am I supposed to say? Tell me where the intersection of "true" and "comforting" is and I will most certainly meet you there.
Today was supposed to be Eva's due date. For the past few weeks, I have felt as aware of this day coming as I would have been if I were still pregnant. It is the first thought when I open my eyes, it is the last thought when I go to bed, and it visits me in my dreams. Whenever I saw the day's date, I would automatically count down. It is July 14, and so it is eight days until The Day. It is five days. It is three days. It is tomorrow.
It is today.
I am overwhelmed by how unsafe the world is. From my tiniest child, once burrowed deep inside me, all the way out to the theater down the road, there is no security. I cannot save a single life, I cannot protect the ones I love from the brutal place this world can be. Babies die, chickens are shredded, hearts are broken, and movie-goers are gunned down.
Today the whole family went out to Eva's grave. The marker had been placed this week, months sooner than we expected it. I was glad that it was there in time for her due date, and at the same time a little mad. "At least the marker for her grave is in place," is truly sucky comfort on the day you were supposed to hold her.
The marker is nice. It was a little dirty, from the installation, I suppose, so we washed it off. I was struck, as we stood there, by the verse I'd chosen for it. "In peace will I both lie down and sleep, for you alone, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety." It's from Psalms, and it's a prayer that I've always said over my kids at bedtime, inserting their name "...make Tre dwell in safety...make Max dwell in safety." My parents prayed it over me and my brother when we were young, and it just seems right.
You make me dwell in safety. You alone.
The graveyard is on the plains east of Denver. The view is grand and sweeping - a little show-offy in the way Colorado is good at. Sophia didn't want to be there, and she whined to be held, to go home, that she was hot. Tre and Max stood awkwardly by, not knowing what to say. Raphael folded a yellow paper lily and tucked it into the ground by the grave. Clay rubbed my back.
Everything I can see, everything beautiful and awful, assures me that I am unsafe. That love is only a precursor to loss, and joy is a lie that will be set right by pain.
But if there is a God, I have to assume that He sees more than me. I cannot pretend to feel it, but I have to accept it if I claim to believe.
And I do.
You alone, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Arrogantly enough, my own words come back to me. "But life is about more than protection, and love is still greater than loss." When I wrote that, a few week back, I believed it...for a little while. Today I choose to believe it again.
Let Love be greater than loss, and tonight, although I will cry again, I will lie down in peace.