For the First Anniversary of the Sandy Hook Massacre

Imagine it . . .

We saw the lines of children running. We counted the souls flying from shattered bodies.  We counted bullets – between 2 and 10 in each body.  We tried not to think of the Christmas and Hanukkah gifts that would never be opened, because those they were meant for would never play again and those who had wrapped them could not bear to unwrap them.  

“Martyr” is a strong word, and it implies choice. Those children and the adults who tried to save them chose nothing but their last thoughts, which we can never know. It is rather we who made the choice to give their sacrifice meaning by finally banning the sale to civilians of military style semi-automatic and automatic weapons.

In the weeks between the massacre and New Year’s Day, we came together miraculously. The One Million Child March brought more than a million children and nearly as many adults and teens to D.C. in an historical call for sane gun control. NRA-backed and anti-gun senators met in the now famous Valentine’s Day Accord that enacted many of the changes the children had called for. Sales of unbanned guns increased, but in a breakthrough that may win them the Nobel peace prize two college juniors  at the University of Connecticut devised a test that quickly reveals, with high accuracy, evidence of violent mental illness and pathological anger. Gun shop owners embraced the test even before required to by law and gun shows followed suit after 6 months of unrelenting pickets and virtual campaigns. And in a bold action dramatized in the Hollywood movie Sanity (released Thanksgiving Day), gangs in all major U.S. cities collected and destroyed thousands of the popular AR-15 style assault rifles (an estimated 3.3 million of which had been sold domestically in the 25 years prior). And in acknowledgement of the wisdom of the adage “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” savings from modest cuts to military spending were used to provide free, high quality, prolonged mental health care throughout the country.

If this wasn’t a day for grief, we might be celebrating.  Since Sandy Hook, the homicide rate has plummeted. After four terrible killing sprees in 2012, we endured not one in 2013. No one can say how many lives the Sandy Hook children have saved. Those who might have grown up to be researchers, doctors, nurses and other healers could probably not in their lifetimes have saved so many. Those who would have become teachers could not have taught more than they taught us on December 14th 2012. And the boys and girls who might have become soldiers, medics, policeman and fireman could not in a very long life time of devoted service have protected us with their lives more than they have protected us with their deaths. 

We mourn them as we mourn our past apathy.  We wish we had changed sooner.  Let us take comfort from the thought that though we could not go back in time and save them, at least we acted to save children and others in future classrooms, malls, movie theaters, homes and streets.  We changed in ways we never thought we could. We chose to make sure their short lives gave our nation a better life, so that this holiday season every wrapped gift can be opened; every promise kept.

Pi times five

So I went down to Philly the Saturday after Thanksgiving to see the family. We went to see Life of Pi--in 3D.  The movie is closely based on a book a gave big Lamarr years ago. Tahija and little Lamarr read it too. We had a good time. Played a 5 hour Monopoly game after the movie. Tahija served a great pasta dish that fueled me up for the drive home. Everyone is doing well in school except Damear. Little Lamarr won awards for math and English, and Mahddy's doing good in English while recovering from s broken growth plate in his knee. A football injury, it sidelines him for the wrestling season, which is a bummer since he loves wrestling and excels at it. Have to wait for next year.

Big Jamarr and I talked a bunch about movies.  I wish we could get back to our movie review blog. I'll campaign for it. Really enjoy his views on films.  Here's the blog.

Mahddy hurt again

I gave Lamarr Life of Pi years ago and now that's it's
a movie Tahija says  we have to see it all together. Yes!
Tahija invited me down to go with them to see Life of Pi when it comes out. I gave Jamarr the book years ago and he love it and passed it on to everyone. He has a little bookshelf (in the bathroom) with novels I've given him plus his video game magazines and Tahija's copy of Cloudsplitter, the very thick historical novel about John Brown that she complained about having to read for her freshman comp class (and yet read, and loved, and talked about all the time).

I'm worried about them now. Sandy's about to hit and Philly last I heard was in the path. Just hope the basement doesn't flood again. They lost 2 furnaces that way.  (Same house as in the end of the book.)

Wrestling camp

Readers of the book will he happy to hear that Mahd (little Mahddy) is spending this week (in July '12) at a wrestling camp in Stroudburg. He made the team in a meet in which he broke his foot.  That made mom put her foot down and say no more wrestling, but Dad persuaded her that his hard work and talent (he's really good) should be encouraged. Yay Lamarr! I'll try to get a picture.

They start 8th grade next year!!


People ask me how the family is doing. The trips are fourteen. Mahddy just broke his foot making the wrestling team. Other than that not too surprising mishap (he's always been the dare devil) everyone is good. They go to a charter school a short walk from the North Philly house where we all lived together. They have the take the El a few stops from their current house, in Frankford. Tahija is working toward her BA, dealing with some heath issues but overall pretty good...more serious about her religion (judging from Facebook posts anyway). She and Lamarr are still together, officially married now and -- I can't believe it -- both past thirty (just, but still).  They're the hub of a big network of friends and Lamarr's twin brothers are often at the house just hanging out or practicing their R&B music with him. Every summer I ask for the boys to come to the country and visit me but it's been 3 summers now since that happened. I contemplate a long soul-bearing letter that will persuade her to let them come or to come herself, but I don't write it. Why don't I write it? Is it too hard to stay  in the relationship? But how could it ever be harder than it was when we shared the same house, and I cared for the boys?  But I'm older now...the broken heart mends more slowly, less fully. I'm afraid someday soon they will say Where were you? I should try harder. Maybe I should never have left Philly. I guess that's when I said--it's too hard. But I was called to "walk with her" and nothing has shown me clearly that the walk is over. People still come here, hits every day. I don't know why they come. The book's not selling much. Probably spambots wandering blindly leaving their droppings, mimicking eyes, ears, human minds. Is anyone there?

I Am Troy Davis

I've been doing slam-style poetry at Albany's nitty gritty slam. I was inspired to write a poem about Troy Davis and his case by his sister Martina Davis Correia. She died on Dec. 1 just ten weeks after Troy's execution. Please read about them on-line if you don't know the whole story. He was certainly innocent. His death was a righteous death and should end death as a penalty.