Friday, December 21, 2012

Books can heal

It's been a week since the devastating tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School and I have tried to find words to express my feelings on this subject. I am a writer, I should be able to write something profound, but I am at a loss, still, for the right words. I am sitting here in my kitchen, sick with a cold the size of Texas, waiting for my tea water to boil. The rain is pouring down tears. My head aches, but so does my heart as I scroll facebook messages, as I read articles about a funeral for a little 7 year-old boy attended by the entire NYC Fire Department, as I remain quiet, reflecting in my moment of silence. This tragedy has cloaked the nation. These are our children.

I sent books to Sandy Hook School along with a promise to come to the school to write with the children, when they are ready, and if they want me to come. I hope they will.

I have tackled life-altering subjects before. My book, Elephants of the Tsunami dealt with the December 26, 2004 immense tragedy. The book was sent over to Thailand on a healing mission. I wrote that book to heal my own sorrow, and for the children I taught, who were scared from afar. I never thought it would be sent to Thailand and I was worried that it would hurt those Thai children, that it would bring back memories of that day. But Wachiramat, a Thai teacher working with 600 children in the villages of Khao Lak and Pang-nga, where 5000 people lost their lives in 5 minutes, told me that the words were so beautiful and that even though the story was sad, it helped the children heal. The children would never forget that day, but the book brought them out of themselves for a moment.

How do we heal? Time, maybe. Love, for sure. Pie, absolutely. Books? I'd like to think so. 
All I can do is what I can do. I can't bake a pie, I can't sing or play the guitar. But I can write and when I do, all my love goes into what I write. And I have written, co-written and edited books for children and teens. All those books are in that box.

So when that box of book arrives at Sandy Hook Elementary School, my hope is that the children will pick them up and read them and laugh and be taken away to that wonderful place only books can take us, if only for a few precious moments. That is my wish.