When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up
When you gonna wake up strengthen the things that remain?
I hugged my grandchildren Thursday night knowing that I wouldn’t see them Friday morning. I’d been watching the two boys for a few days while their mom and dad had been out of town. Like many children – almost all boys in my experience – some of their play had been in the form of gun/laser attacks, complete with explosive sound effects. Like many adults, I try to discourage this activity and move them to others. It’s a sometimes tiring task.
My flight from San Francisco was scheduled to leave somewhat early Friday morning, and my son had some business meetings to attend in addition to a job interview and so he drove me to the airport in the darkness and while still in his pajamas.
I had intended for my first post back to be about how ambivalent I felt on the return flight to México City, how I still questioned my move, about crowds in the bus terminal, and how everything seemed to take longer than other trips. But I was traveling on a Friday afternoon not long before Christmas and was competing for space with young people carrying holiday cookies to someone they loved, cookies on a paper plate covered by plastic wrap .
The only negative about the trip was a porter at the airport who gouged me, and while he charged double what I had been charged on previous trips, it still didn’t amount to more than a few dollars and with this being the holiday season I let it go. In San Miguel I asked the taxi driver if he had ninos o ninas and he said he did, so I tipped him well I had been up at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time and I walked through the apartment door at 11:30 México City time, so it was almost 16 hours of travel. As I dragged the last suitcase in the door, I thought “I’m home” and felt the release that comes with those words, something I haven’t thought or felt since the early days of living in Chicago in 2011.
As I unpacked, I found the photos of my son’s family that he had given to me as a Christmas present and tears of sadness from missing the boys welled up. I had the television on, tuned to Anderson Cooper’s show, which I don’t usually watch. Then he introduced a clip of President O’Bama that had been recorded earlier in the day. That was the first I learned that 27 people were dead in an elementary school, 20 of them children.
I think about those families … I am not a fan of homeschooling, but tonight I am glad one of my grandchildren is home-schooled and wish the other was, too. I cannot imagine the sadness in Newtown, Connecticut tonight. While I am glad I am home in México, I think about those last hugs Thursday night, both mine and those given by the mothers and fathers and grandparents who will not get to hug again. who will not get to say things such as “play with something else would you?” to their boys and girls, Or, “don’t you ever aim a gun at a person.”
My trip may have seemed relatively long, the waits may have felt long in the immigration and customs lines and the bus terminal, but those are nothing compared to grief, which seems endless.
I thought of those 20 children who now would never ride the bus home on a pre-holiday weekend, taking home-made cookies to family.
I find it hard to believe that the young man who shot the children and their protectors, then himself, used guns that his mother had purchased, legally.