Tag Archives: Sandy Hook

Getting off the Grief Boat

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The sounds of the storm woke me up around 5:40 this morning. The rain was pounding; the wind was whipping and I’ll give you one guess what thought immediately popped into my head:

OMG, THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT.

Of course, we’ve all heard the story about how the Mayan calendar predicted the world would end today. And then yesterday, I heard that it would be at specifically 6:21am. So when the howling wind woke me up, I did what any rational person would do: I immediately calculated that we had about 40 minutes left, got out of bed and started planning for doom (oxymoron?).

At one point, I actually considered waking up the kids and bringing them into bed with me so that we would all be together (because in a cruel twist of fate, this morning was the first time in a loooong time that all three of my kids sleep past 6:00am). I’m not kidding. I REALLY thought about doing that. And then I realized KJ would be seriously pissed off if I woke him up for this. And if it so happened that the world DIDN’T end, well, then that would be a bummer because he’d be cranky all day. And I’d be all, I’M SOOOO SORRY… I THOUGHT THE WORLD WAS ENDING.

I’m hoping the fact that 6:21am has come and gone means we’re safe, but I’m going to knock some wood just in case. (What if the “am” was just a typo and it’s really 6:21PM? That’s going to put a serious damper Fruit Loops Night.)

But looking back, was it SO CRAZY that I assumed the worst (don’t answer that)?

After the week it’s been? After this past horrible, tearful, HEAVY week we’ve had, spent hearing about funeral after funeral for children and heroes… the end of the world just didn’t seem that far-fetched.

 

Well, damn if I didn’t eat more Cadbury Mini Eggs right then and there.

Hello again!

Hello again!

 

I let the Loud One go to school today. Despite all of my world-may-still-end concerns. And more importantly, despite the fact that it is the one-week of anniversary of the Newtown tragedy and I spent this morning thinking, how can I let her out of my sight?

But it’s Pajama Day at school today so there was NO WAY she was going to miss that.

So she went. And now I’m holding my breath until she’s home again. Then she will officially be on Winter Break. And in a few days, it will be Christmas. And then it will be a New Year. A fresh start. A clean slate.

 

It’s 9:30 right now, so I’m pausing for a Moment of Silence.  

Oh God.

 

Like I said, a fresh start. A clean slate. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH IT? 

After I posted my thoughts on Newtown on Tuesday, I was truly overwhelmed by the number of people who contacted me to say, “I AM HERE WITH YOU.” And it helped.

I really feel like we have all been in one enormous Grief Boat this week. We’re all together on a giant, mourning cruise where everybody feels sick and just wants it to end. But now we’re back on land, getting our sea legs back and we’re ready for action.

(Oh my, that was a TERRIBLE metaphor. Please don’t think that I for one second thought that was poetic or literary.)

 

Back to action… here are some things we can do. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a start:

  • Create colorful snowflakes to decorate the halls of the new school which will be used for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary. Returning to school – new building or not – will probably be difficult for many of these kids. Let’s help to make it a happy, joyful place. Take out your Glitter Pens and go crazy.
We did not make these. Ours may be slightly less perfect.

We did not make these. Ours may be slightly less perfect.

By the way, have you read THIS? I would say grab your tissues but I know they’re already right next to you. Make sure you have one – or ten – ready.

  • Educate yourself on the gun control issue and take a stand. (That Wiki link was the closest thing I could find to an “objective” source.) Google it and read both sides. As always, be open-minded and respectful.
  • And lastly, we have Ann Curry’s #26Days initiative. Ann’s project encourages people to perform 26 Random Acts of Kindness to honor each of the 20 children and 6 school administrators that died at Sandy Hook last week. OK. I know. I have been very vocal about the fact that I am not the biggest Ann Curry fan in the world (#UnderstatementOfTheYear  #IMissMeredith) BUT I am a HUGE fan of what she is trying to do here. So, bygones. Check it out HERE and be sure to scroll through the photos at the end. And if you don’t tear up, I’m sorry, but we are not soul mates.

Let me tell you something about performing a random act of kindness. It feels good. REALLY good. When you surprise someone with kindness, you walk away with a feeling that’s hard to articulate… it’s like a JOY BUZZ. They’re happy, you’re happy, they’re hopefully going to make someone else happy…  and then RAINBOWS shoot out of your ASS. (<– that part is a lie. Sorry.)

Please participate in #26Days. Or if you dislike Ann Curry even more than I do, call it something else. Or don’t call it anything. Just do nice things.

26acts

 

There are so many ways to spread kindness… here are just a few ideas (you can find a full list HERE):

  • Give care packs to the homeless. (Toothbrush and toothpaste!)
  • Pay the tab for the person behind you at the diner or Starbucks or the barber shop. (I heard about a guy who paid the highway toll for the 26 cars lined up behind him… isn’t that awesome?? Bummer if you were car #27, but still cool.)
  • Thank your police or fire department. (Verbally. With a note. With brownies. With skywriting. Whatever works for you.)
  • Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life. (Bonus points if you haven’t seen or heard from that person in a long time. Bonus bonus points if it takes a little bit of effort to track that person down. Please note: I am NOT encouraging you to stalk your ex. I know some of you will read this that way. That is NOT what I said. Do NOT put words in my mouth.)
  • Say something nice to someone. (So easy! I talked about the power of a compliment HERE.)
  • Help a coworker with their workload. (Then you can BOTH make it to Happy Hour. Win win!)
  • Pay off parking meters.
  • Pay off someone’s Target layaway.
  • Pay off someone’s students’ loans. (OK, I’m kidding. Unless you were considering it. Then you should TOTALLY do it.)
  • Make a positive comment on a website or blog. (AHEM. I swear this is on their list. Not self-serving at all.)
  • Bring coffee or treats to a place where people are working hard right now (the post office, perhaps?).
  • Basically, identify someone who makes your life a little bit easier or safer or happier. Reward that. Or pick a totally random stranger and brighten his/her day. That’s it!

I’ve done the hard work for you. Now get to it.

PS. After you commit your act of kindness and you’re feeling all aglow, take a pause, whisper one of the names below and say, “That was for you.”

Charlotte Bacon  –   Daniel Barden  –   Rachel D’Avino  –   Olivia Engel  –   Josephine Gay  –   Dylan Hockley  –   Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung  –   Madeleine Hsu  –   Catherine Hubbard  –   Chase Kowalski  –   Jesse Lewis  –   Ana Marquez-Greene  –   James Mattioli  –   Grace McDonnell  –   Anne Marie Murphy  –   Emilie Parker  –   Jack Pinto  –   Noah Pozner  –   Caroline Previdi  –   Jessica Rekos  –   Avielle Richman  –   Lauren Rousseau  –   Mary Sherlach  –   Victoria Soto  –   Benjamin Wheeler  –   Allison Wyatt

We’re getting OFF the Grief Boat people. The families of these angels deserve our action.

Let’s start with kindness and go from there.

“Say hello” is a little weak… you can do better than that. Just saying.

Newtown: We’re Right Behind You

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I have that headache. The headache of thoughts and emotions swirling in my brain and I could not be more unproductive right now. At a time of year where productivity counts – presents need to be bought and wrapped and bought and wrapped; cookies need to be made; magic made and traditions upheld, I’m having a hard time. I cannot wrap. I cannot wrap my presents and I cannot wrap my brain around what has happened.

Sandy Hook Elementary School is 21.54 miles away from my house. I see the pictures of those kids and all I can think is how they look just like my daughter’s first grade classmates. And just like my nieces. And just my daughter.

I put her on the bus this morning, came back into my house and cried. I know I’m not the only one.

Yesterday, we had the talk. For two days, KJ and I struggled with the decision to talk to her about what happened or not. Finally, the anxiety of her hearing it the wrong way won so I sat down with her, as nonchalantly as possible, to fill her in.

I know some of you may feel this is a private thing to share, but as I use this blog as my own familial journal, I’d like to document the conversation. I also think the way the Loud One, and most six-year olds, process things is so interesting. Our talk went something like this:

Me: I just want to talk to you about something that happened a couple of days ago. You may hear people talking at school tomorrow, so I just want you to know what’s going on. A man, who was very, very sick in his brain – sometimes bodies get sick and sometimes brains get sick – went into a school that’s far away from here (I justify this white lie by saying that 20 miles IS far in the mind of six-year old) and hurt some people. A lot of people are feeling very sad about what happened and because this is so unusual, a lot of people are talking about it.
LO: How did he hurt them?
Me: He used a gun. But there were so many other people at the school that were not hurt.
LO: How does a gun work?
Me: A gun shoots bullets and the bullets hurt the bodies they hit.
LO: Did they die?
Me: Yes, some of them did.
LO: Oh. At this point, she asked the only emotional, fearful question of the whole conversation, What if that man comes on our airplane to Florida? (I can only assume the idea of the airplane came up because I said the school was “far away.”)
Me: LO, I PROMISE you that this man will never hurt you or ANYONE ever again.
LO: Is he dead?
Me: Yes.
LO: Did the sickness in his brain kill him?
Me: Yes. (Because isn’t that the truth?) And I just want to stress that the reason people may be talking about this is because this is SO unusual and almost never happens. Schools are almost always so safe; YOUR school is so safe. And one last thing, this is not something you need to talk to other students about, but if you have any questions at all, you can always talk to me about anything or if you’re at school, you can ask Mrs. Teacher.
LO: OK, I will.

And that was it. We exchanged I love yous and laughed about something else before we moved on… and it was seemingly forgotten.*

Kids are amazingly self-centered. She asked that one question about the airplane being safe, but that was it. Once she confirmed that THAT threat – that one bad man – was gone, she was fine.

She never asked if the “people” I referenced were kids. She never asked how many of them were killed. And I am so glad. I am so happy that her practical brain just wanted to know facts and could avoid the crushing emotion of this story.

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There was “strong police presence” at all of the schools in our town this morning. We’re trying to avoid making our kids feel anxious, but yet to keep them safe, we need a “strong police presence.” It’s effed up.

I keep thinking of the families. And the funerals that will happen this week. I keep thinking of the songs that will be sung and the photos that will be shown. I keep thinking of Happy Dude’s MAGICAL teacher who is from Newtown and has so many connections to Sandy Hook and the families. We have a family friend who also knows one of the families who lost their son. These tenuous connections are what we talk about. And how we wish we could do something.

The tragic losses are impossible to bear.

The ripple effects are impossible to imagine.

I find comfort in knowing that other people are also still so sad because it makes me feel less like a crazy person. I feel guilty for being glad that people are still sad. And then I feel bad about all the emotions I’M having because this isn’t about me AT ALL.

I’m just a Mom of a first grader in a town 21.54 miles away who desperately wishes she could take just a tiny bit of pain away from those parents who lost their babies. If we could ALL just take a tiny bit of their pain and literally share their suffering, I know we would. Who wouldn’t volunteer for that?

But it doesn’t work that way. The pain is infinite. But there is hopefully a tiny bit of solace in knowing you are not alone when you’re suffering. And that is what we can offer.

So Newtown – especially to the parents of heaven’s newest angels – I just want to say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

No one would dare assume we understand what you’re going through, or feel the same pain, but please KNOW that we are here. Right behind you. If you want to lean, we’ve got your back.

21.54 miles away, 80 miles away, 1,200 miles away 5,000 miles away…  we are here.

We are standing behind you, sharing your pain. We are praying that your loved ones may rest in peace and that you, in time, will find some.

candles

*I have been devouring all of the “How to Talk to Your Kids” articles that people have been sharing and forwarding. By no means do I think I handled this perfectly. I immediately had regrets about some of the things I said and didn’t say. I would love to hear more about the conversations you’ve had with your kids, if you’re willing to share. I’m interested in the questions the kids are asking and more importantly, your answers. This is a tough parenting situation (understatement of the year) and I, for one, could use all the help and insight I can get. Thank you.

Too Close to Home

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First, I got a text that said, “School shooting Newtown, CT.”

And I thought, “Oh no.”

Then I read, “Elementary school… three taken to the hospital.”

And forgive me, but I thought, “Oh, that’s terrible but maybe it’s not that bad? Sounds like nobody died.”

Then I got home, turned on the TV and exchanged a lot of messages with friends and families that were full of speculation. Full of “I just heard…” and “Now they’re saying…”

But we still really had no idea.

And then, seemingly out of the blue, BAM this headline appeared, “18 children killed, six adults.” (And of course, later the number went up to 20 children.)

I lost it. I’m sure you did, too. I cried and yelled at the TV and called my sister and said, “What is happening??” I felt so panicked.

I’m sure you did, too.

And did you just want to RUN to your kids’ school and get them and squeeze them and never let go?

Me too.

So I did. I went to the Loud One’s school, under the guise of having “library duty” (which was sort of true) because I felt like if I just went to the school for no reason, I would be that crazy mom who was freaking out unnecessarily. (Which is not unusual for me, for the record.) And because we live in Fairfield County, about 45 minutes away from Newtown, I was greeted by additional staff members manning the entrance and a police officer at the front door.

Disconcerting.

I walked down the quiet halls at my six-year-old’s elementary school and could not help but think… what if?

But then I saw the kids. My kid. And they were all fine! They were laughing. I could breathe. They were looking at books. And the Loud One was SO excited that she had picked out a Bob the Builder book for Happy Dude.

So cheerful. So innocent. So clueless, thank God.

I don’t think she noticed my eyes.

I brought her home at the end of the school day. All of my kids were under my roof and I didn’t want to take my eyes off of them. All throughout the afternoon and evening, they were fighting and they were whiny and I didn’t say a word. I just thanked God that they were home.

I still feel so anxious. The good people of Sandy Hook did not think this would ever happen in their town. In their school. But then it did.

How are those parents going to… live? I hope they’re sedated right now (is that wrong to say?) and surrounded by people who love them fiercely. I hope their angels can reach them somehow and give them strength to go on. Somehow.

I pray that someday they can find peace.

In my life, we are all reeling… do we tell our kids? Do we sit down with our babies – SIX YEARS OLD! – and tell them about the horrible things that very, very bad people do sometimes? Not often, but sometimes? Do we look them in the eye and promise that this will never happen to them? That they will always be safe? Do we promise?

Or do we keep our mouths shut because they’re too young to understand? Too young to be aware of this kind of horror?

But then what happens when some big-mouth older kid yells across the bus, “Hey, did you hear about all those little kids that got shot and killed in that school that’s only 45 minutes away?”

That would be terrifying, no?

What’s right? What’s wrong? What would a good parent do?

How do I be a good parent today?

A very, very sick young man killed 20 young children and six adults this morning and the ripple effect is now being felt throughout Newtown, Fairfield County, the state of CT and the entire country.

Hug your kids. Say a prayer.

 

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PS. I write words down usually in awkward and run-on sentences because otherwise they swim in my head and give me a headache. I don’t mean to make any broad, inappropriate statements about what happened today and I DEFINITELY don’t mean to make this sound like I think it’s all about me. I like when I write stuff and people say to me, “YES. I felt that, too!” whether it be in a comment or in person. Because that makes me feel less anxious and crazy. And isn’t that the whole point? To feel less alone in our anxiety and craziness? Thank you for keeping me company.