On December 14, 2012, a gunman broke his way into Sandy Hook School and killed 20 children and six adults. My son is a survivor.
My son is a Sandy Hook survivor.
At Sandy Hook School that morning just a few days ago, he huddled with his classmates and teachers in a corner until the shooting stopped and police rescued them from the building. My son survived.
Those words — that phrase — is something I have to carry with me forever. And perhaps, with time, I will be able to say it without the body-shaking sob. But this is nothing compared to the burden that my son, his classmates and his school share. They endured horrors on December 14 that no one should ever have to witness.
In Chasing the Dream, I’ve tackled so many topics related to going after your dreams. But there is something I have systematically ignored over the last year: What happens when something so bad occurs that you find yourself in darkness and the dream seems so distant and unimportant?
In the darkness
Turn on the radio, and announcers talk about murder-suicide, massacre and dead children. Turn on the television and crying parents weep recounting the details. The front pages of the newspapers, the homepages of every website and even Twitter and Facebook are filled with it.
I can’t do it. It’s just too much. Here in Sandy Hook, we are living it.
Even without the TV or radio, there is still a darkness that creeps in. I hate the darkness.
But you have to push aside the darkness to see the light. And the light is abundant. It’s in my son’s eyes as he plays and spends as much time with his sister as he can. It’s in the hearts of those who’ve donated coats, lunchboxes, backpacks and more to make transitioning to the new school a little easier.
The light surrounds us as we come together as a community and go on. We are trying. We are doing.
Choosing the light
Every day, we are given a choice. We can let the darkness drag us down. We can dwell in the places that keep us down and out. Or we can choose the light — and do something greater.
I choose light.
Though my body aches with a cry of “I can’t do this,” I choose to help other moms with the donations we’ve received, sorting and preparing and planning deliveries. Though I want to remain cuddled in bed with my children all day, holding them tight and telling them how much I love them, I choose to get up and be productive.
I choose light even as I struggle with what to do with the new blue striped hoodie that Will wore that day. It’s a reminder of all the emotions, so I can’t let him wear it again… but do I keep it? I won’t let these little things pull me down though.
My dreams are big and bold. That hasn’t changed. But since Friday, the big dreams I hold have faded and another dream has emerged: Giving my kids that feeling of safety and security they deserve.
Here in my little New England town — the one no one had ever heard of before Friday — we are surrounded with this horror, but we are moving ahead, one step before the other, and choosing the light. We have to.
Our children are depending on us to lead the way.