I wasn’t sure what we would tell Logan and Zoe, much less the details of the tragic events. So, when Zoe asked me if someone was shot at a school, well, I was a bit rattled. My parenting skills skipped town, my heart ached and my mind raced searching for answers.
She had overheard some parents talking after school while she was practicing cartwheels with her friends. I love Zoe for her attentiveness, but in this moment I had only wished that she had been more distracted by the giggling of her friends than the tears of a mother.
In the end we talked with Logan and Zoe about what happened at Sandy Hook. It was not easy, trying to find the words to explain to them about the depth of it all without scaring them or adding worry to their thoughts.
We left the conversation feeling that we had covered what needed to be covered, though more than we had anticipated. As the weekend rolled along there were other moments when it resurfaced, innocently giving Zoe a glimpse of what had happened. The front page of a newspaper laying on a table at Panera’s. An overwhelmed mother talking with her friend near the kids Christmas movies at Target. In that particular moment I couldn’t react fast enough to get Zoe away from the conversation, leading to me giving the other Mom the ‘stink-eye’ with a “What are you doing?!!” glare.
It was in the car that the conversation transpired, Zoe wondering how someone could be so ‘mean’, How could they hurt those kids? Why did he go to the school? Why? Why? Why? Logan sat quietly in the seat next to her, I watched their faces, my heart ached for those families and I could see my children struggling with it all, internally, externally, searching.
As we talked about it, I wanted them to remember that there is always something that can be done. We all want to turn back time and save those children and families from heartache and loss. But we can’t, so what do we do? As a society, that’s up to us, the adults, that’s not what this moment was about. It was about helping my children feel safe and showing them to keep putting good back in the world, to remind them how much good is out there and that together we can help each other heal. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, what’s most important is that it is a heartfelt, loving one.
It all felt so ‘big’, what to do, how to help. My own mind raced with thoughts about the families, the children, the community. There were no words to express the range of emotions that we were all feeling, trying to grab onto whatever it is that keeps us centered.
While searching for ways to translate it all to my seven and nine year old, I tried to explain to them that sometimes when there is a big crack in the pavement you have to fill in the all of the little cracks first. That all of the little things help fix the big things. I could see their bodies relax, their faces soften as they eased back into their seats.
I asked them what would make them feel better if this would have happened to our family. They both said hugs first and then as we talked about our family blog and how we have been sending out hearts to raise awareness for T1D they shouted out, we could send hearts!! Perfect I thought, something that they could do and it would help them feel like they had control of what was happening.
I wasn’t at all surprised when they started asking if they could ask their friends and family to send hearts too. Hmmmmm…I explained that it might be a little tricky because for many reasons, and good ones, not everyone will have the same information about what happened, so we might want to just ask a few people to join us. They were persistent and truly believed that others would want to join us, so I sent out a few e-mails, shared with a few friends and you know, they were right.
As the names started to pour in, I thought to myself, “Kids have it right, they blurt things out, they cut to the chase and they speak from the heart, no filters”, though sometimes I wish they had a little bit of filter, like when we are in the check-out line and they suggest that the lady should use the white stuff that I use for her mustache.
At first we thought to just send a box of hearts, then there were so many names we thought to make a garland of hearts. A collection of love, thoughts and prayers sent together, strung together by one ribbon, feels right. We are all connected, a garland would be perfect.
In a short amount of time we have received over 200 names and they keep coming. They have come from all over the United States, Canada, India, Australia, Japan and Guatemala.
So, join us! We invite you to send your name, city, and state to be added to one of our hearts. (It doesn’t have to be your full name, whatever you feel comfortable with, though we would like to add a location to show support from all over, not just from where we are from).
Feel free to share this post with friends and family, we’ll be taking names until Dec. 25 at Midnight (MST). All you need to do is leave your info. here or you can e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll make sure that your love and good vibes are added to our garland, and we’ll be sure to post a photo of the garland when it is completed.
Thank you for considering it and for sharing it. I am grateful to all of those that have contributed in helping this parenting moment slowly shift from a very difficult conversation to a movement of love and kindness. We look forward to adding you to our family of hearts! and since we can’t hug everyone as Logan and Zoe so eagerly suggested, we send you hugs from here, may we all continue to move forward in kindness and grace.