Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Noah Pozner: a new year
Life goes on as they say and it is as should be. But yesterday when we came back from the triage center where they collect all the presents to the families and we told the girls we had a surprise for them, Sophia asked: "Noah's back?" She knew it wasn't so (I could see it in her eyes) but she hoped against all hope. Later they said they would give up all their toys, past, present and future, just to have him again. Fortunately they are kids: five minutes later they were negotiating over who would get to play first with which Barbie. Interestingly they agreed to disagree and set aside the one that threatened to be a bone of contention. Fighting isn't on their agenda. Rebuilding their little world clearly is.
By writing about Noah and by posting photos I took of him over the years, my hope is to make it clear that he can't be reduced to a name or a statistic. He was a very real little boy who was mown down by a very real gunman in his first-grade classroom together with his friends and his substitute teacher: I wasn't there and can't replay the soundtrack in my mind but all the kids and grown-ups that made it out of that school on that day have it etched on their memories forever. And if I could, I would make sure we never forget it either. These twenty kids and six grown-ups were full of life and unbearably vulnerable, just like us. Made and sustained with love over the years, they were gone in seconds in an horrific act of violence.
I have always found it hard to reconcile the strength and intensity of the bonds that tie us together with the fragility of our bodies. Some call it the beauty, some call it the absurdity, I call it the tragedy of the human condition. Each of us deals with it as best he or she can.
Sooner or later this blog will stop being about Noah and our grief and will revert to an all-bread blog. It won't be right away but it will happen. I am already longing to bake again. In a way it will be easy to go back to bread: yes, Noah loved tacos, that's absolutely true. But when he came to spend time with us, his main staple was homemade artisan bread. He ate it straight, no butter, no cheese, no honey. "Only bread, please, Maminou". If we let him, he could put away a whole loaf in one day. He said he loved my bread best (a born charmer, this Noah!) and he loved it all: teff, buckwheat, spelt, wheat, rye, baguettes, batards, miches, focaccia, flat breads, etc.
Last summer when the family came to stay with us at our cabin by the river, he and his siblings ate so much bread that I had to bake everyday. I usually mixed the dough at the table while they were having breakfast and they took turns adding water. I can still see Noah's eager face: "Can I add water now? Can I?" Like his sisters, he loved the smell of the levain and listened intently when I explained how it helped raise dough. I remember thinking as they ate and watched and chatted that maybe one day they would be making bread in turn for their own family. In a way I will always be baking for Noah. And if, because of all this, you decide to have a go at making your own bread, so will you. You will get plenty of help and support from the online bread community, that's for sure.
See how Noah worked his magic? I started writing all sad and deflated and now I am smiling, rejoicing in my little "bread monster" as he and his siblings liked to call themselves.
Some of you have written or commented that you find solace in reading about our grief on this blog. I can only say your reaching out is a great source of comfort as well: it feels like a communal working through of the unspeakable. My hope is that when I stop sharing our family story and find other, maybe more active ways to remember Noah and all those who were taken from us on December 14th, you will too. That is my wish for 2013.