I cannot look at photos of Christina Green, the youngest victim in the Arizona shooting on Jan. 8, without seeing an echo of my daughter, Celeste.
They both have smiles that can melt the polar ice caps, eyes as brown as the sweetest chocolate, and hair that flows like a waterfall.
They were also born 10 days apart, so on Tuesday Celeste was the same age as Christina when her life ended.
That makes Christina more than an image on a screen to me. Even though I don’t know her and our families live on opposite sides of this nation, we share a surreal experience and feelings that are hard to describe.
Christina and Celeste were both born during an extraordinary time in our nation’s history, Christina on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Celeste in the turbulent aftermath. When every American was furious and reeling from the loss of life on that warm and beautiful September day, our families were celebrating the birth of a daughter.
We as a nation were questioning everything in those days, some even wondering how we could go on with the minutiae in our lives after suffering such monumental loss. Every minute of every day following Sept. 11, 2001, was filled with anger, doubt, frustration, and second-guessing. It invaded every conversation, every newscast, and every nod “hello” between passersby on the street.
I sense a tinge of similar anger in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings. Funerals were not even held before people started pointing fingers, blaming the far right, lax gun-control laws, poor parenting and more.
But I cannot yet invest any critical thought or spend any emotional energy on such debates because I can’t move beyond Christina’s smile without seeing Celeste.
I think of Christina as I write this, and her image springs a well of tears that can only be dammed by pushing the tragedy far from my mind.
For me, the time has not yet come to debate the roots of the violence. I’m still processing the loss of life, even though I have lost nothing.
But in the midst of it all, part of me thinks this: Pointing fingers in any direction other than the gunman absolves him of responsibility, even if just in some small way. Doesn’t that excuse him to some degree? And doesn’t that make the tragedy worse?