There’s a book I’ve read a few times called, “Stones for Ibarra” by Harriet Doerr. It tells the story of a couple who move to South America from the states when the husband is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The villagers welcome them in but when they find out the husband is ill they start secretly hiding all sorts of superstitious healing tokens in the home in the hopes that he will get well. The wife, being fully entrenched in denial, throws out the tokens whenever she finds them.
In the end the man does die and the villagers create a traditional memorial with white stones outside the home. They explain to the widow that the stones let people know that something bad happened there. This is the one custom the widow embraces, wanting everyone passing by to stop and take notice, begging them to see….something horrible happened here.
For me the story touches on one of the most difficult moments experienced in the aftermath of a tragedy; the moment you realize that the world ended only for you. For everyone else the world goes on. They’re still shopping for groceries and having friends over for dinner and getting their nails done, despite the fact that time is standing still for you.
I wish I could make time stand still for the families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, or at the very least protect them from seeing the world move on. The funerals will end and the media trucks will leave, and then what? Life goes on? I wish I could save them from that cruel realization, I truly do.