When Regina and I decided to do this blog together, we agreed that our focus would be on topics about writing. But this week, the whole nation is out of focus.
So today, I need to write about something other than writing because writing isn’t soothing. It’s emotive, creative, exciting and complicated. That’s not what’s called for this week.
My own source of console is always my friends. On a down day, I know that I can call a girlfriend for support (thank you for always answering my naval-gazing type calls, Shari.) In times of joy, they show up with flowers (birthday flowers from Tina and Rina last year and more recently, a lovely arrangement from Kathy M.) or a bar of chocolate (thanks Matt, for chocolate and coffee during the hardest time.) They make me laugh so much that the fact that I have had three kids is abundantly clear…ah hem (thanks, Joe.)
I’ve shared countless meals with friends whose conversation is something I can gleefully participate in, or sit back and enjoy when my own silence is what I need most. I am so grateful.
This weekend, while the country reeled from something so awful that there are no words to describe it’s impact or aftermath, I found consolation in the company of my sweet friend, Regina. She’d driven to my family vacation home a few days before I could get away and join her. She went for a rest, a recharge after the constant care of three beautiful daughters.
I was hoping she hadn’t turned on the television or radio but she had. So we talked about our kids, the need for gun control, how mental health services have been eroded since the Regan administration and how we need more, not less funding for these programs. As Liza Long pointed out in her heart-wrenching article entitled, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” prison is now the largest provider of mental health services in the country.
After we talked, Gina and I went into town and interacted with a host of smiling tourists and storeowners. For me, those genuine exchanges were a reminder that most people are, as Anne Frank wrote, “good at heart.” That helped me to set aside some grief (and, of course, my own sorrow is a grain of rice compared to what the parents of those children killed in Newtown are feeling.)
But I’ve been a social worker for over twenty years and I know that people grieve differently. For those in Newtown and others all over the world who are facing a loss, I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing. I hope you find solace in whatever brings you comfort – whether it is words, friends, endless bars of chocolate or quiet tears.
And for those who find relief in action, there are things you can do to get involved and to address the widespread problem of gun violence.
Swarthmore College has an extensive list of organizations dedicated to peace.
The Brady Campaign has created a powerful webpage including a tally of people shot in America this year and this day is updated every minute. It’s a sobering look at what is happening in our country.
Local to Evanston, IL. a group of community members have started a group called the Peace Pioneers. Their next meeting is Thursday, January 3rd. "we'll be planning a Youth Summit, poetry & rap-writing workshops, a Youth Concert in the spring, and more..."
Benevolent is a sort of Kickstarter for individuals with charitable needs. Their hope is lift people out of poverty and address issues that lead to communities of people with mental health issues like depression.