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How to live in this world

It was all over the news: Over two dozen killed, mostly kids, in a Connecticut elementary school shooting.

There was no making sense of it.

Terrible, gut-wrenching, brain-crashing things happen in life. They don’t just throw those who are living through it off balance. We are a web of humanity, one door front, one neighborhood, one phone call, one click away. We know one another’s business, and it rocks us all.

Those of us far from the horror wish we could help, want to know how to prevent it from happening to us, feel dizzy with the inability to put our finger on the pulse of something so hugely confusing.

Those close to the tragedy tread water, deal with the flood in front of our noses, force ourselves to breathe and make it through to the other side, oblivious that there are people on higher ground wishing us well.

It is all so much, so, so much. Things like children being randomly murdered make no sense.

It makes. No. Sense.

As I watched the clock count down until I could go get my son from his own elementary school, what kept running through my own head was: This is why I do it.

This is why I painstakingly make rainbow cupcakes for my daughter’s fifth birthday.

This is why I help build forts that eat my living room for breakfast.

This is why I remember to move the Elf each night.

This is why I smile through migraines and invite the annoying kid over and only buy the rice in the tub even though the rice in the box is so much cheaper.

Cars crash. Diseases surprise. Deranged men shoot.

I don’t know if Fate’s bullet will hit me next or someone I love so much I can’t even type their names in this sentence. So I will make their lives richer. I will show them where they live in my heart by putting that heart on my sleeve for them to wipe their noses on. I will do this every day for as long as I can.

I am more than aware of how fragile life is, and how beautiful it can be.

I am more than aware of how much I have to lose, and how lucky I am to have it while I can.

I weep for the parents, the siblings, the families broken by a senseless man with guns. I wish them peace and hope, though I don’t know how it is even possible.

I will hold my kids a little longer tonight and kiss them more than usual before they drift to sleep. Then I will lie in bed sending those who lost so much all the light in my heart that I can muster, as I cry for the ones who hurt in a way I can’t fully understand.

Tomorrow I’ll continue to do things, big and small, to fill the lives of those I love with the proof that they deserve another day of being loved, as long as I’m able to give it.

— Kim Bongiorno

Kim Bongiorno is an author, freelance writer and award-winning blogger. She’s a contributor to various online publications, has been published in nine books, including the New York Times bestseller I Just Want to Pee Alone, wrote a short story collection called Part of My World and recently completed her first young adult novel. She blogs at Let Me Start By Saying. The original version was published as “Men Shoot, Cars Crash, Diseases Surprise: How to Live in This World” on Dec. 14, 2012 in The Huffington Post.

Reflections of Erma