That’s the one word I keep coming back to today, since no other word seems to apply.
When so many lives – including so many young lives, cut so tragically short – are lost in a hail of senseless violence, our language falls short on adjectives.
Heartsick, then, it is.
Heartsick for the victims. Especially the youngest victims. Twenty students. Shot dead in a grade school. When the facts are so unfathomable, is it a wonder our language proves inadequate?
Heartsick for the mothers and fathers -- who will now endure an unending nightmare that, as a parent, I cannot even imagine.
Heartsick for the children who survived – and were told, as they were escorted out of Sandy Hook Elementary School, to close their eyes to the violence that had unfolded around them. If only it could be so easily forgotten.
Heartsick for the community of Newtown, Conn. A community that, like too many others, will now have its name linked to horrific and random brutality. Like Aurora, Colo., earlier this summer. Like Portland, Ore., just earlier this week.
Heartsick. I wish there was some other word.
But I wish more that there was no need for some other word. That there was no need to try to write about something unthinkable, to try to explain the unexplainable.
Usually, in this space, we try to explain things that can be explained. We try to analyze policies and trends, politics and science. We write about schools as a place of learning, not as the scene of massacre.
We write about concepts and controversies that, at least, have some clarity to them. We can and do debate them, but debate them from some basic starting point of understanding. When the concepts are more clear, the words come more readily.
There is nothing clear about what happened Friday in Newtown, Conn.
Even as the facts emerge, as they always do, there won’t be any easy explanation.
So not only am I short on words today, I’m short on providing much of a call to action.
Pray for all involved, for everyone touched by this? I know I have.
Hug your kids a little longer than usual, even if you – or they – think they are too old for that sort of stuff? I know I will.
What I won’t do today is participate in the discussion – the inevitable and appropriate discussion – about gun violence.
Not when words come so haltingly.
Not when hearts need time to heal.