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For the last five days, I have been thinking quite a bit about stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, denial was my initial reaction - but it was brief.

Anger quickly followed. 
A kind of rage that made me want to run down the street shouting "WHAT THE **C*?"  I wanted to spit.  I wanted to flail.  I wanted to pick up a car just to slam it back down. 

Bargaining has been anger's close ally.  When I haven't been wanting to spit on the ground, I have been ready to spit on the NRA.  I have written to my representatives in Congress calling for meaningful firearm (and ammunition) regulation.  I have read the articles buzzing around a certain social media site - a piece reassuring me that it is okay (more than okay? responsible?) to talk about gun control even while we grieve, an article pointing to Australia's successful reform, and a piece arguing that an armed society actually undermines freedom

Then, there has been the depression - a stage with some damn staying power and plenty of damn crying.  Crying on the floor of the living room.  Crying in the bathroom.  Crying in the car on Route 2 heading to work.  Crying in the car on Mass. Ave. heading home.  My mind cruelly provoking my imagination before I can stop it. 

I have been meandering in and out of those three stages for days while I have also been living my totally normal life - going to a holiday party; visiting my husband's parents; going to work; working from home because Bug woke up with a fever; dropping off Bug and Squish at daycare/school; picking them up again; making breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; folding laundry.

Last night I even went to the gym and started what passes for a workout these days.  Because I tend to look forward while I run (as one should), I had to look at a television tuned to a certain cable news network.  While, so far, I have avoided television news intentionally and successfully, last night I had to put a little more effort into it.  Eventually, the coverage of a child's funeral ended, and I was able to watch coverage of the golden retrievers who went to Newtown to provide comfort.

The story brought tears to my eyes, but in a different way than I have become accustomed to.  My heart felt full not broken.  And I remembered some advice I got on Friday - advice I was not ready to accept that day.

It is worth repeating:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

So, last night, I started to let myself see the helpers.  The caring people. 

I remembered the president's remarks on Sunday night:

And we know that good guys came, the first responders who raced to the scene helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and their own trauma, because they had a job to do and others needed them more.  

I remembered a friend's words on Monday, as she started her school day as the principal of a middle school in Brooklyn:

As I stand at the door this drizzly morning greeting each of our 312 kids, all I can think about is how our number one job is to make school the safest place in kids' lives and how the Newtown principal who felt that same responsibility so deeply ended up in the worst situation any of us can imagine Friday and then acted so heroically. Sending healing wishes to a community whose pain I can't even imagine.

Until last night, I was not sure I would make it to the stage of acceptance.  And I don't mean just accepting Friday, but I mean accepting that this is our world - a place that includes senseless, seemingly random evil.  I see, though, that there is a more powerful, overwhelming amount of intentional good in this world.  Good, caring, selfless, heroic, protective, nurturing, sympathetic, helpful people working to heal. So, while I have not made it to acceptance yet, I finally see it as a possibility.

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