I am a mother. I have two babies. Babies that I grew from nothing into tiny miracles inside my body. When they were born, I wanted to somehow keep a piece of them inside me forever, thinking that it might somehow keep them safe from the big bad world. Every breath, every smile, every heartbeat, and every tear that comes from them also comes from me, and to me, as their mother. I feel love for them that I could never put into words, that I can hardly comprehend. I want them to have every dream come true, and I want them to experience every happiness. But, even on the best days I feel scared for them, for the things that I know can find them in this world. They are my heart, my soul, my breath, my life, and my future. They are my world and my everything. They are every good, kind, sweet, loving expression of humanism you could ever hope for. They are perfect. They are beautiful. They are innocent. My girls are just like your children, and I am sure you as parents feel the same way I do.
What happened yesterday to those children, families, teachers, administrators, and community members is horrific. I watched it unfold from the very first news report and sobbed alone in my living room for hours, unable to turn it off. I allowed myself to give into the grief, to feel the emotions that came to me as a parent. I buried my face in the sweet, soft folds of my babies' necks, breathed in their innocence and peace. I found strength in their bliss and happiness. I laughed through my tears as they played and went on, pure and untouched by this tragedy. And I felt the surge of a mother's love and fierce need to protect, as my beautiful 2 year old ran a finger down my cheek and asked "why mommy crying?"
My answer to her was, "because I love you so much and I am so grateful to be your mommy."
I can never begin to imagine what it must feel like to experience the kind of loss that is resonating through that town right now. To be a mother, father, grandparent, sister, brother, or friend to one of those victims. All I can do is pray for them and hope that somewhere, somehow, peace can exist in their lives again someday.
Last night as I gazed at the Christmas stockings hanging over our fireplace and read the names of my daughters embroidered on those stockings, I felt a fresh wave of grief for those families that will never again fill a Christmas stocking for their child. Who have piles of lovingly wrapped gifts that will never be opened. Who have little clothes and books and toys and photos and memories and love scattered all over their homes and hearts that in an instant went from causing joy and smiles to bringing unthinkable pain and sorrow. Who must somehow find a way to go on after having their hearts explode inside them and their world shattered into a million pieces. I can't fathom what they feel today. I hope I never have to.
Someday my babies will want to walk away from me. They will want to play alone, go to school, to friend's houses, movie theaters, malls and parks. They will want to learn to drive. They will want to travel, to get on an airplane without me and go to another city, another country, and experience life. And as painful as it is, I will have to let them. I will have to trust them with my heart as they make their own choices and decisions, as they write their own stories. I will be proud of them. But every second they are away from me, until my last breath, I will fear for them. Being a parent is constant joy and constant sorrow all at the same time. It is wonderful and beautiful and terrifying. It is so much more than I ever anticipated.
All I can do for those families in Connecticut is pray and put love into the universe. I can hug and kiss my babies. I can remind myself that even the worst moments I have as a parent are moments to be grateful for, because there are so many parents that would give anything for those moments to be returned to them. I can take deeper breaths and find more patience with my daughters when they need me to. I can remember to be in the moment with them. And I can remember that with life also comes death, with joy also comes sorrow, and with hope also comes fear. Yesterday reminded me to never take for granted the blessings that are in my life. To never take for granted the sticky kisses and hugs from my girls, the sound of their laughter and joy, the feel of their breath on my neck. Today I am so thankful to be a mother, to have been chosen for this gift of unconditional love from my babies, and to be able to recognize how truly miraculous they are. I will hold them close as long as I can, and when I have to let them go, my heart will go with them. My thoughts and prayers are with those families whose hearts have left them forever.