Passion Pit was playing and I sat alone in the loft of Big Dog Coffee Shop. I was supposed to be writing. I had planned to write another chapter in my memoir, but I had new blog posts on my mind. As a result of the quandary, I checked my twitter account.
Dear God, no.
I wanted it to be wrong. I wanted to see a follow up tweet retracting the news. But more tweets came, and then I clicked on the YouTube link. I saw the fire. I heard the little boy’s voice and the words of his father, and I wept on the inside.
Dear God, no.
The numbers were already being called like some sort of sick lottery; death takes all.
Stop. Stop. Stop.
I sat for a half hour in the coffee shop, not really sure what to do. Eventually, I left and went to the store to buy my son some baby food because taking care of him was something I could do. I was still here, living and breathing, but other mothers and fathers were dead. There might be a mother in Texas who would never take a trip to the grocery store again. So, I filled the black plastic basket with green beans and pears in little glass jars, and I looked at all of the cookies and crackers that my son didn’t need. I put the cookies and the crackers in the basket because while I’m still here, while I’m still alive, I want to watch him eat his first cookie.
I came home to a dark house; all except for a flickering light. My husband had left the Our Lady of Guadalupe candle lit on a round table. I put the groceries on the counter, and opened the door to my son’s room. I watched him sleeping, and I counted his tiny fingers just because I could. My son was still here with me, but other sons have died and their mothers will never see their hands again. Mothers have lost their limbs in Boston and would have to find new ways to walk to the hearts of their children.
The gravity of the horror cannot be surmised by numbers. Numbers are not formed in wombs, birthed and held and kissed.
As I watched the digits continue to fluctuate and the words “unknown number dead” flashed across the screen, I wished for the speculation to stop. The dead are daughters and sons. The dearly departed are not numbers or statistics to their loved ones, and I will not allow them to become numbers to me.
Throughout the rest of the week, I’ll be filling my house with candles for the people in Texas, for the people in Boston, for the little girl up the street, and for Pastor Rick’s beloved son Matthew Warren. I will sit by these candles and pray over these candles.
The numbers on your screens are people; dead sons and daughters.
Will you light candles in your home this week? In fact, every time you hear of a death on the news, through social media, or a friend, will you light a candle? It is a small gesture, but it is a way to honor the dead and to sit in solidarity with the grieving.