This is my goddaughter, Saige. She’s six now. She was three, I think, when I took this photograph. You can’t see, but she was on her little Dora the Explorer training potty. She made me sit with her in the bathroom because she didn’t want to be alone. She liked sitting there, playing with her bath toys, not peeing.
When she was born, her mom almost died. I was at the hospital that night, I sat in the waiting room for a long time. They let us in when her mom was in surgery. I was one of the first ones to hold her. I remember her eyes, open. She didn’t cry. She just stared.
This is just to say. She goes to elementary school in Connecticut. She’s in the first grade.
Her mom sent me a message a couple weeks after I moved away. She asked me for my address. She wrote, I asked Saige if she had anything to tell you. She said “Tell her to do good in school.”
This is just to say. Every town in Connecticut is the same town in Connecticut. Every town in America is the same town. My niece is alive, my niece is beautiful and spoiled and stubborn and sometimes well-behaved and sometimes not and bright and quick and demanding and smart and once when I walked in the front door wearing a long blue dress she held her arms out to me and said, Auntie. I love your dress. You look so pretty. You look like a princess.
This is just to say.
That there isn’t really anything to say.
Except I love my niece. I love Connecticut. I was born there. I grew up there.
I love humans. There are so many good humans in the world.
This has no ending, really. No beginning. I can’t think of how to formulate the words that would make it more helpful, or more useful, or more articulate. This is just a reaction to something unthinkable. This is just a knee-jerk, fumbling-around-in-the-dark, eyes wide, mouth open reaction.
As a writer you write and you write and you write—you write even when you fucking hate writing, even when you would literally rather be doing anything in the entire fucking world other than writing. You write then, even. You have to.
And then something like this happens and you can’t write anymore. You lose all the words. They slip away from you like they were just waiting for their chance to bolt.
You can’t write but you have to write. It’s the first thing you want to do.
I love my niece. I am terrified at how easily it could have been her school, her classroom.
Every classroom is the same classroom.
I would like to say something less obvious than- what a fucking sad and terrible thing.
But that is what I’ll say. That is where I’ll leave it.