As a journalist, I've covered lots of terrible stories. But none has been quite so personal as the shootings last week at a grocery store in Tucson. The grocery store where my mom shops. The grocery store where Quinn and I take her regularly since she stopped driving.
Tragically, the little girl killed in the shootings was the daughter of a high school friend. One of the men who was shot but survived is a friend's father-in-law.
When I got the call about the shootings I had just left Quinn's monthly "Barnyard Fun" occupational therapy session. It was the first time EVER that he participated in a group session - he did the hand motions during the songs, played the name gave with the other kids, threw styrofoam "snowballs" into a bucket on command - and we were just thrilled.
We had plans for the rest of the day, but instead I rushed to work and stayed until the next day's paper was on the presses. When I came home I went into Quinn's room and just sat and watched him sleep for a while. Someone's child had died that day. One minute here, the next minute gone. It could have been anyone's child. It could have been Quinn.
I remember once, years ago, a friend telling me that her sister had decided to have a second child because she didn't think she could survive if her only child died. At the time, just married and not even contemplating parenthood, that seemed so bizarre to me. Now I get it.
The next day, again at work, I mentioned to a colleague who has a son a bit younger than Quinn that I had sat by his bedside when I got home. "I did that, too," he said. "Me, too," piped in a colleague with a 5-year-old girl. Turns out every parent in our newsroom had done the same.
The shootings here are such a terrible tragedy. They're a terrifying reminder that life as we know it is so fragile, so fleeting. But also a reminder to hold fast to what we have, and appreciate every single second - no matter how many we are given, or how few.