Heavy Boots

Since Friday’s shooting in Newtown, I have had “heavy boots.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor those who’ve read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the reference to Oskar Schell will likely be apparent. For those who haven’t, Oskar’s heavy boots carry a powerful, if unexpected, metaphor for a sadness that a nine-year-old simply cannot describe in words. 

But the metaphor is all the more apt for the families in Newtown. Oskar is reeling from the loss of his father in 911, a tragedy that is simply unexplainable in any rational terms. And now, with Newtown, we have fathers and mothers who are reeling from the loss of their children in a tragedy that, like 911, is equally unexplainable in rational terms. 

The issue is not the language skills of a nine-year-old.  The issue is the utter inexplicability of making innocent people pay for some wrong— whether imagined or real—done to the attacker.   

I do not want to fill white space with words that cannot describe my pain at watching the endless repetition of appalling details, the endless effort to “explain” the unexplainable.

All I can say is that I have heavy boots.


  1. I was reeling with my sorrow for the families in Newtown when, this morning, the news crawl mentioned that ten Afghani schoolgirls were killed by a bomber, for their crime of wanting an education.

    • Richard … I don’t think violence on this scale is new in the history of the world, but more people have access to destructive tools, and the media just won’t stop hyping it. I sometimes wish I lived in the 15th century … or on my yacht in the Pacific when we did not hear such awful news repeatedly ad nauseam.

  2. It’s all so numbingly sad

  3. As a fellow writer, I assert that there are no words for this insanity. Yes, the shooter have no outlet to express the enormity of his pain. But, like the crime that Richard Sutton describes above, there is no appropriate outlet for this kind of suffering. I wrote a poem, I shared one written by a colleague, and I will continue to do so, but I really think that I will just squeeze my kids a little tighter every time I see them.

    • Ronald … I have no children, but my friends do, and I worry for them. I can / have come to terms with the fact that life is out of our individual control … come to terms with the unpredictability of hurricanes and highway accidents and cancer. But Newtown and 911 were not “acts of God” … they were horrific acts of man. That I cannot come to terms with.