Even during times of mourning, we all need our joys

Dec 22 2012 - 4:44pm


One of our sons has again made his parents morph from college-educated, responsible adults into babbling idiots, saying stuff like "koochy-koochy-coo!" and seriously depleting the national supply of photo pixels.

Yup, another grandkid. Our third. Oliver.

His grandmother and I may be excused, I hope, for being pretty happy this weekend. Why not? We have a healthy baby boy to celebrate.

The best news is local. Nothing's more local than what happens to me, so I find myself at odds with the national mood as I type this.

Tuesday night, I held this brand-new child in my arms and, really, life doesn't get cooler.

I pondered his great beauty, his amazing strength, his bright future and how I get to share those as long as I last.

But the next morning, the road to work was lined with pink ribbons for Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children killed by a nut in Connecticut last week.

Her death, and the deaths of the other 19, not to mention six adults, have slammed the country into nationwide mourning like nothing since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Sure there have been other shootings, and larger, but not little of children. The injustice screams.

People are frustrated, helpless. They put up pink ribbons, lower flags, write letters and clog Facebook with memorials because they really want to do something, anything.

It would be nice if we could make it stop, but every time someone proposes an actual law -- train and license gun owners the way we do car drivers? -- there's a firestorm from people who see the nation's future, or freedom, or something, threatened.

That firestorm is fierce.

Gregory Gibson's son was killed in a school shooting in Massachusetts on Dec. 14, 1992, 20 years to the day before Emilie was killed.

Gibson wrote a heartbreaking op-ed in the New York Times, saying he tried to change things after his son died. He wrote a book, went to rallies, proposed legislation, passed petitions.

Then he gave up. The firestorm had made him someone no politician dared touch.

"I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be," he wrote. "We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it."

I can't accept that. The murder of 20 babies screams for an end to the horrid gun culture that fosters this madness.

That still leaves we who find ourselves celebrating amid mourning a bit conflicted.

We are not the first. New Yorker Dahlia Gruen turned 10 years old on Sept. 11, 2001, and has had to deal with that gold standard of mixed emotions ever since.

She set up a website (www.birthdayspirit.org) for others in her fix. You can't deny the feelings, she says, but you can't let them deny you, either.

As one poster said, "When a woman went into labor on Sept. 11, 2010, her doctor told her that this was 'not the first baby I've delivered on 9/11, and the way I see it is this: Something wonderful is happening on this tragic anniversary, and America needs that.' "

The nation needs the inexpressible joy that is Oliver.

With luck, he will grow in a world where he can go to school without airport-style security checks, his parents never tempted to buy him a bullet-proof backpack.

That's for the future. Now is time for fun.

Such as? Well, given the season, we had to get Oliver the onesie that reads: "Oh Come Let Us Adore Me."

And we will. We're happy grandparents.

The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232 or ctrentelman@standard.net. He also blogs at www.standard.net.

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