Maybe it wasn’t the right time to talk about terrorism–to have to tell her what “mass shooting” means because I couldn’t turn off the radio quick enough on the way to the last ballet recital of the season. But she heard it–“mass shooting at a gay nightclub”–and what followed was a talk we’ve never had, a talk I’ve been pushing off because there never seems a good time to tell your child that the accepting loving world we lay out for her has holes and that those holes can involve a gunman opening fire in a public place where people are targeted for being different.
But it’s always a good time to talk about love. So on the 20-minute drive to her recital, we did. And it all fell out–the words I thought I’d need days to carefully plan in advance.
Gay. Skin color. Different. Hate. Terror. Ignorance. Guns. Sadness. All the more reason for love.
“That’s why we never stop loving. Why we celebrate and accept people for being who they are. And when we hear sad things like this, it just reminds us how important it is to be love. People need our love.”
I checked the rear view mirror for her cues–for signs of discomfort or fear or confusion, but all I saw was love. A little girl in a purple tutu and a tight ballet bun, ready to dance.
She wasn’t nervous like I expected her to be when I dropped her off backstage. And with a kiss on the top of her head, I sent her off to dance.
The concert began with a moment of silence for the lives lost in Orlando, a prequel to the national moment of silence that would follow an hour later when the recital would be underway. And I thought it perfectly appropriate–that while hundreds of thousands of people across the nation quietly remembered this tragic event, there was a stage in Florida where young people continued to dance.
How I wish I could protect my children from the hurts of the world, to shelter them from heartache and hate and stories of broken people. But I never want that wish to shelter and protect to paralyze me from speaking up about things that matter. I want them to know the urgency behind the fact that people need our love–to know that it’s taken years of fighting for it for so many groups of people, and that we always, always, always join the fight for love.
Today, I share the sadness that belongs to all of us as well as the responsibility to live, talk about, model and teach inclusive, limitless, everlasting love.
In these moments of silence, we continue to dance.