On Saturday the children and I baked holiday cookies.
Before we began I gathered them together around a candle at our table.
"Let's light a candle first," I told them. "We'll light a candle for anyone on Earth who is hurting or sad, sick or angry today. We'll send our love to them through this light."
Yes, why? How do you tell them why without shattering the magic realm in which they dwell?
"Because," I told them, "if we focus on sending love to those who need it most right now, maybe they will feel it. Maybe our love can reach all around the world, to everyone who is sad today."
We pictured the light of that small flame glowing out and encircling the Earth, touching every life that is filled with pain right now. We kept that flame buring all day.
And even for me, that's a better feeling than focusing on the details of something unspeakable. To focus instead on how can we shine love into this darkness.
We held hands and I said a silent prayer.
And then I kissed each of my children strong and hard on the head.
"I love you so much," I told them. "Every day I am thankful to have you in my life."
They hustled off to gather baking supplies and I said another prayer. And cried a little more for the children.
My kids do not know what happened on Friday.
I hope it is a story I never have to explain to them. Because how can I? I can not comprehend it myself, much less translate it to my innocent six year old. Children – all children – deserve to live a childhood knowing they are safe. I'll do what I can to keep that belief alive.
As for my own process or guiding you through yours, I do not have any wisdom to offer. No magic statement that will make us all able to better swallow this bitter pill. I have far more questions than answers right now. I think we all do.
I mean, my God. They were Lupine's age. One of them almost shares her birthday.
For me all of this grief translated quite simply into me being a better mom. I found myself being more patient. More kind. More understanding. More playful.
I found myself appreciating my children more – and everyone I love.
I focused on the singular belief that each day is a gift.
Today is very much all that we have. Now. This moment.
Use it well.
So I'm doing my best to be here now and to lead with love. What else can I do? When I slip beneath the shadow I loose myself to fear and despair. And that won't serve me. (Or my kids, or any of us.) Positive change needs to come through positive intention and positive action.
So I'm counting blessings as I find my way through this dark place.
I'm focusing on cultivating peace.
What about you? How are each of you truly doing today? What light are you finding to shine into the darkness?
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Charlotte Bacon 2/22/06, 6
Daniel Barden 9/25/05, 7
Rachel Davino 7/17/83, 29
Olivia Engel 7/18/06, 6
Josephine Gay 12/11/05, 7
Ana M Marquez-Greene 4/4/06, 6
Dylan Hockley 3/08/06, 6
Dawn Hocksprung 6/28/65, 47
Madeline F. Hsu 7/10/06, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard 6/08/06, 6
Chase Kowalski 10/31/05, 7
Jesse Lewis 6/30/06, 6
James Mattioli 3/22/06, 6
Grace McDonnell 11/04/05, 7
Anne Marie Murphy 7/25/60, 52
Emilie Parker 5/12/06, 6
Jack Pinto 5/6/06, 6
Noah Pozner 11/20/06, 6
Caroline Previdi 9/7/06, 6
Jessica Rekos 5/10/06, 6
Avielle Richman 10/17/06, 6
Lauren Russeau 6/82, 30
Mary Sherlach 2/11/56, 56
Victoria Soto 11/4/85, 27
Benjamin Wheeler 9/12/06, 6
Allison N Wyatt 7/03/06, 6
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
31 thoughts on “Finding blessings.”
My little 9 year old does not know what happened either. I think it is very wise to keep fearful and frightening things away from children. That is the last thing they need. I, too, appreciate, hold dearly, hug longer my loved ones as well.
Don’t know what to say but my reaction translates into the same, be closer, be kinder mom.
Thanks for being outwardly strong Rachel. This morning on the radio I was reminded that today the first of the funeral’s begin. It made every part of me ache. Two of the young boys will be celebrated today, and I imagine each day this week the others will be celebrated (and deeply mourned for so many reasons).
I think I too will light a candle and send love around the world.
What a wonderful, comforting post. I try to live each day as a gift with my little daughter and family as well. I never want to have any regrets about not spending enough time with her or not showing her enough love. The world can be such a dark, scary place but I can make sure my home and heart for my family are a beacon of love, warmth, comfort, and safety. Focusing on that helps me feel like I have power when sometimes this world makes me feel powerless. Sending light and love to you and your family.
Oh rachel, sunday morning i had to spend some time trying to explain some of this to my sweet Lexi – i didnt want her to hear it from anyone at school first. It was such a hard conversation to have. She looked at me and said – mom why would anyone shoot kids? Oh what a question. I had to drop her off at school this morning, knowing we have to move forward and she was fine. But me, oh i wanted to hug her forever and not let her go. But as i silently prayed for safty for her and all her little friends, off she went.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mothers’ words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
My children do not know either. My oldest is six, the same age as most of the children involved. We homeschool and so I do not really have to worry about him learning about it in the school yard, but my God, really, how do you explain something to your child that you yourself cannot even wrap your head around?? I cry thinking about it. I cry for all of those parents whose hearts are shattered. How can I look my own in the eye and explain this? They were HIS age. At that age, you should never have to think about something this horrific. I hope that our collective peace, love, and strength that we are all sending out is reaching those people that need it. I hope it is reaching all of us, because we all need it.
I can gaurantee it was the mosr difficult thing ive ever had to tell my 8 year old daughter.
bless you Rachel. Well said.
I just stumbled upon your blog… Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the tragedy, like debates, articles, analyses. But in the end, I think, we will never be able to explain this to anyone or to ourselves. So, I think, what you said is the most important… We can only appreciate our loved ones even more and remember how fragile a human life really is.
thank you. beautiful.
I regret that a tragedy of this magnitude was necessary for me to become mindful of the big picture, was necessary for me to realize every short word, frustrated sigh, missed moment to give love could be my last impression on my child. How many times have I allowed a grouchy morning be the last thing they have from me? It’s been a big reminder to do better, be better and love better. I would give anything for those parents to have their children back but I can honor their loss by giving my children all that I have.
Thank you for their names and birthdays, Rachel. They mattered.
Everytime I think of this I lose all my words. It reminds me of certain spiritual traditions of silence, and in that light I understand better the wisdom of that.
I thank you also for the names, beautiful names of beautiful children.
I also thank you for sharing your light and love.
I have not lost a child, but I have very recently lost my mother. Losing a child is the only thing I can imagine would be harder. Lot of pain here, but I did sense a bit of lightness come my way.
And I saved an anonymous wandering dog from getting hit by rush hour cars. The dog’s owner drove up just as I was trying to figure out where to go with this gorgeous golden retreiver who was obviously well-loved. You can tell your kids that their love saved a dog today, in Australia.
Helpers, as in the Mr Rogers quote. Helpers are what keeps the love and light flowing.
Thank you, Rachel.
Peace be with you all. I too, have been reflecting over this tragedy and trying to find answers-praying for guidance, praying for more Love on earth, for less pain. I have a 7 year old and a 6 year old, and I kept thinking to myself, My God, they could have been my kids. I have been trying to search for answers…and Rachel, you found it. You summed it up! When tragedy hits…it’s really for us to WAKE UP from our deep slumber. We need to LOVE one another. Show love to the people who need it. A smile, a kind word, anything. This tragedy has made ua all a little kinder, gentler, more patient and loving. May those beautiful souls rest in peace. May God give their families patience. People have been talking about gun control, but they’re missing the point. There are a lot of people who are mentally ill and needing help but are being neglected..God help them. May God shower His Peace and Mercy and Love on everyone in the world. Beautifully written dear Rachel. Thank you. (I found this article very beneficial called I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”) also enlightening.. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html
Sometimes, Jess, I think the world looks like a darker, scarier place than it really is. Effortlessly we have access to information on each tragedy on the planet. But really, what does our day-do-day look like? There aren’t very many true dark spots in most day. Hugs.
I can’t imagine, Lori. I hope your strong faith is bringing Lexi comfort today.
Love this. Thanks, Cassandra.
You brought me tears, Julie. What a profound transformation. What a gift you have found in the darkness.
Wonderful. Thank you. (From me and the dog.)
This article is wonderful. I found it over the weekend and inserted it into the post I wrote on Saturday. SUCH an important read. Thank you for linking.
Thank you Rachel.
I wish you would have added the names of all the children that also got killed these past days in all the countries that are currently suffering war and where families live in fear everyday. I am not comparing pains here, as I imagine that this kind of loss might be the most unspeakable wherever it happens, and I understand that people get more sensitive because it happens closer to their homes, of course.
But the condolence and sorry messages I have seen all over internet made me think. I wish those love messages were not only sent to Newton, and not only this week. There are so many other families on earth needing love, light and care…
I of course agree, Lil. I was the kid handing out black arm bands in my high school when the first Gulf War began. I have long stood for peace – in all forms – and don’t stand behind any governmental or personal action to kill people.
I am curious as to why you chose to leave Nancy Lanza’s name out of the list of victims? I have noticed that many (NFL, churches) are doing the same, and I am not sure I understand why — so I thought I would ask.
Thanks for the beautiful post.
I did not intentionally leave her name off of the list. I downloaded a list of victims names from the shooting and they limited it to just at the school. Thank you for mentioning it. Ive added her now.
I did not mean that you did not stand for peace, I hope this was not how my message was understood, cause this was not what I wanted to mean… english is not my native language so maybe I’m not expressing my feelings correctly.
I just wanted to speak for the ones who seem (to me) too easily forgotten among all those love and grief messages on the internet. I find a bit sad that this kind of messages only appear when american kids are killed. But it is human nature I guess, to have a tendency to forget what happens far away.
I do understand, Lil. For me it is more that this type of grief would be my sole focus if I let it in everyday. I’m not sure how I could keep focusing on other aspects of my life if everyday was a focus on just what is hurting in our world. So I drag my babies to peace rallies, I sign petitions, I write letters, and try to lead with peace at home. Thank you for your thoughts. I do agree that until it comes home we tend to forget. Peace.
Hi Rachel, I hope it was ok to copy and paste the list of names…I referenced your blog as where I actually first found them. I also posted about a notice our local PTA sent out to all our families about sending cut snowflakes to their PTSA so they can decorate their school for the return of students in January. here is the address to send snowflakes:
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514
Thanks for this beautiful article.
Thank you Rani!