after sandy hook

Two days shy of eleven months ago a man with a very broken mind walked into an elementary school and killed twenty young kids.

The day after those children were murdered I babysat my six year old niece. Tonight I was trying to find something to write about and I stumbled across the notes I jotted down that night after she fell asleep.

I’m sitting on the steps in my older sister’s house. It’s almost 11 pm and just a floor above me are two sleeping girls. My nieces are 13 and 6. I had the chance to babysit them tonight and it really could not have come at a better time. This week was horrific. Yesterday I did all my work with red, teary eyes. I can’t wrap my head around the killing of children. No one in her right mind can, I guess.

Tonight when I tucked the 6 year old in we counted her stuffed horses. She’s in love with horses, like a lot of little girls. We counted until we got to 40, then we stopped. We couldn’t count anymore because we were laughing too hard. I was doing a really awful impression of horse noises and tossing each one on the bed as we counted. When I finally tucked her in we decided she should sleep with all of them. I piled them around her. One tiny girl and 40 stuffed horses all in a twin sized bed. It was silly. It had us cracking up. It was nothing big, but now I’m sitting here realizing that it was big to her. It’s not a moment she’ll remember forever, but while it was happening it was the funniest thing that’s ever happened. Everything that happens to a six year old is remarkable,

I can’t stop thinking about that, about how everything is monumental to a small child. Somebody marched into a school and senselessly stole the lives of twenty kids who probably were learning something new just moments before, something they’d never known until that moment — something remarkable.

I’m sitting here on the steps at my sister’s house knowing when my niece wakes up I’ll be back home in Greenville. I know she probably won’t think much about us putting all those horses on her bed, but they’ll be there — a couple dozen stuffed horses piled on her bed to remind her that someone loves her enough to spend a few minutes laughing with her before she goes to sleep.

Someone loved all twenty of those children in the same way. I could move from the steps. I could go watch television, but right now from this spot I can hear a faint snore coming from her room. So I’m staying here, because she’s resting peacefully and I need to soak it in.

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