A Reflection: Choosing Joy in the Midst of Tragedy
On Friday, as I was in the midst of a busy day, I took a break in the afternoon to check my personal email, Facebook and Twitter. The usual breaktime fodder. I noticed pictures of candles and prayers consuming my Facebook feed and then saw the headlines from Connecticut that brought me to my knees. A shooting in an elementary school? How? Why? WHY?
Tears sprung to my eyes and my heart felt heavy. I felt sick.
As a mother, I could not even begin to comprehend such unspeakable tragedy. I could not find words as there were none that would suffice.
As I looked within my social media outlets to find more information, I was troubled by what I saw. Troubled that it has to turn into politics. Troubled that anyone for one second had to turn it into a platform other than what should just be about prayers for the families, peace and love. While there is a time to try to find some understanding and a way to stop something so incomprehensible from happening again, Friday was not that day.
I also saw a Tweet that said: “Hugging our children won’t change anything.”
Perhaps by teaching love and peace to my little boy, he will turn around and teach it to others. It may not make a difference today or tomorrow, but maybe, just maybe, sometime down the road he will remember that his mama taught him how to love and bring peace to others.
On Friday, my office closed early for the day and instead of rushing off to do errands, I drove immediately to my son’s school to pick him up. I just wanted to see him. Hug him. Be with him. He was so excited that I came to get him early- he was still on the playground for recess. He came running up to me and asked, “Mommy, why did you come and get me so early today?” The only response I could give my 4 year old was, “I love you and missed you all day. Let’s go home. Pizza tonight?” To which he responded in all his innocence, “Okay, mommy. I love pizza party!” That was all he needed to know.
We got home. I made pizza. I sobbed over what I was seeing and hearing, my son all the while oblivious to the horror that took place 1,200 miles away. We then turned the TV off altogether and just spent time with each other. That night, while putting my son to bed, instead of trying to rush him to sleep I stayed with him just a little longer. He fell asleep and I stayed in his room, listening to the sound of his tiny, sweet snores thanking God for the miracle that he is and and the pure joy he brings to my life.
My husband came up to look for me in Jack’s room thinking I might have fallen asleep, asking me what I was doing. I said “No, I didn’t fall asleep. Everything is fine. Tonight, I just wanted to be with him.”
It doesn’t feel fair that these parents don’t have their babies anymore. It doesn’t feel fair that their holiday will be filled with so much sadness. My heart aches for them as I cannot even fathom what they are going through. These babies… just a year or two older than mine. Gone.
I have struggled to write this post. It has actually taken days to find the precise way to put my thoughts into words. However, I don’t think there is any way to make sense of it. We can only learn from it. Hug our kids closer. Teach them and those around us to live with love, peace and forgiveness in our hearts instead of anger and hostility. Recognize and reach out to those who are crying out for help. Take a moment each and every day to thank God for the tiniest of blessings that touch our lives: friends, family, jobs, a roof over my head, food to eat. Live life without fear or regret. Never take a single moment for granted.
While I am sad and grieving in my heart for these children, teachers and families- I am also choosing to move forward. I’m choosing joy and will do what I can to spread it to everyone around me.
From my family to yours, we wish you a holiday season filled with only peace and love in your hearts.