I remember way back, when my now 21-year old daughter started losing her baby teeth, feeling a little bit sad about the transition. Of course, the first tooth was exciting; she got to believe that there was a tooth fairy, a very cool entity who traded that tooth for what seemed like a lot of money to her. Each tooth after that, though, came with a hint of the future, that my girl would, a few years hence, get hips and breasts, have love interests, want gadgets instead of toys, choose her own clothes based on her unique style.
There's something about a child's baby-tooth-filled smile. It symbolizes her innocence, her purity even. Incapable of hate, except maybe for broccoli, unburdened by prejudices and resentments; loving fully and unconditionally; running through a room naked, dancing, singing. Just because.
In my 48 years, I've witnessed world events that stirred my soul, made me rejoice, or left me wanting for words, a means of understanding, and, sometimes, even a desire for vengeance; from incredibly vague bits I recall of the moon landing to the triumph of what is good and right that we are remembering in the wake of Nelson Mandela's passing, with wars and revolutions and too many mass shootings in between.
But nothing, nothing, I've witnessed compares to December 14, 2012, when 20 tiny human beings, some with all their baby teeth and most with some still, were massacred, their little bodies ripped apart by the multiple bullets the killer fired into them.
I learned of the massacre here. After finishing the things that needed doing that day, I popped into the site and saw weatherdude's diary, "When is the right time to talk about this bullshit?" Like everyone else, I was shocked and horrified. I cried.
As the hours and coverage wore on, rage was growing inside of me. I wrote a diary the next morning, which put my emotions, especially the rage, on full display. I remember being prepared to pull the diary if the community thought it was too vulgar, or too much too soon, when I hit "publish." That didn't happen; based on many comments, I'd simply put words to the raw emotions that so many others were feeling.
I was glad for that because it felt like I had done something, though very small, that mattered to people in a situation that we couldn't even comprehend.
It's almost one year later. I still cry when I think of those children who had their baby teeth and, for many, the belief that Santa Claus would soon be visiting. They'd been good; they were too young not to be.
One year later, and rage still rises within me. The source of that rage, however, has moved well beyond Newtown to the nation as a whole because we have failed, completely, to honor those children and protect all others from the horror that was that last moments of their lives.
Do I really need to provide the details in the U.S. beyond the big headlines like the shootings at LAX and the Washington Navy Yard? the NRA-sponsored recall effort in Colorado? the expansion of "kill at will" (aka "stand your ground") laws since those tiny people with baby teeth were torn apart by bullets?
Will we ever contemplate what our post-9/11 doctrine of kill first and ask questions later has done to people? Can we legitimately wonder whether the Newtown shooter's world wasn't formed, at least in part, by the emphasis on violence and revenge that took hold on 9/11?
Why aren't we holding "pro-life" politicians to their word?
How could we have done so little? How could the massacre of those precious little people and those incredibly brave women who tried to save them, how could that have been insufficient???
One year later, it's still too much. How can it possibly be that this wasn't a turning point?