be not afraid

So many tears. As the headlines continued to flow in on Friday and the news became more grim and worse than anything I could ever imagine and each valley felt like it was the deepest it could possibly be, the valleys just kept plummeting and with them my tears flowed more freely forcing me more than once to pull my car over and sob. There was work to be done, but it was difficult to think of anything else, to propel myself forward in any semblance of normal, to smile at my carefree patients and play them a sweet song. I looked at them that afternoon as one might typically look at a very small child, so blissfully unaware.

When I close my eyes, my mind creates images I don't want to see. I can't unsee them now. My mind knows that an event like this is rare, but my soul is finding it diffcult to push these fears aside. I sobbed into my kindergartener's hair as she slept last night, cuddling her little body tightly against my own, enveloping her with my legs, my arms, and entire being, knowing that even all my love and care cannot keep her safe from this world.

She had asked me already if we were going to church and I immediately said yes, because what better place could we go? Until I woke in a panic this morning, knowing that the focus was not going to be on advent candles and mangers. I called the parish, I asked the priest who answered directly if this would be discussed and he answered, "there will be prayers for the children." My parish wonderfully offers a children's service that spans part of the mass and brings the kids to a seperate area of the church (which I'm not going to lie was hard to even consider today, sending her away from me in a public place). He suggested I send her along, but she has been resistant to it in the past. Then I asked him, "Father, I just don't know what to do, I'm having such a difficult time with this. What do I even do?" He took a pause, "You are a mother, you are the most important person in the entire world to your children, you must not be afraid."

Caroline reluctantly made her way with the other children to the children's liturgy and I sat alone in a mass of my neighbors, with tears flowing down my cheeks. There it was, just ahead of me, in stained glass. "Be Not Afraid." I focused on it and took it in, in great gulping breaths, until that bouncy haired beauty returned to my side with a sticker sheet of the holy family and her bright smile.

We had a birthday party today for one of her classmates this afternoon. I compared notes with the other mothers who also have told their children NOTHING. We watched them, like my patients, blissfully unaware, laughing, eating cake. She sang made up songs on the way home about "counting horsies" (28) and Rudolph and I pushed it all aside to be with her in that happy moment, to sing right along with her and remind her that I think she is most special thing in the entire world.

We drove by her school on the way home, "HI SCHOOL!" she yelled at the top of her nearly six year old lungs. "I LOVE YOU!!"

A mother at the party was speaking loudly about the events we are trying desperately to keep from our children's ears. She was talking about change and handprint door locks and... she was talking crazy because we all know, there is no way to promise safety, not ever, not anymore. No door, no lock, no fancy handprint gizmo can keep all that outside your door if it wants in. "You can't live like that," someone said. I started, surprised. It was me.

Be not afraid. I'm allowing myself to be myself and myself is desperately sad and incredibly sympathetic. I will honor those kids and faculty in my every action. I will love my children as fiercely as I ever did. I will think of Caroline Previdi every time I hear my daughter's name, every milestone, every birthday, every holiday, every night; surely as sweet as my Sweet Caroline, surely as special, surely as loved, and sorely missed. I will never forget, but I will not be afraid.


  1. Anonymous7:59 PM

    wow, very well written Kerri. I like the message...Be Not Afraid, Be Strong.
    Claire McCabe

  2. Thanks Claire. I'm just keeping that stained glass at the front of my mind.