The Monday following the shooting I was home putting together a dollhouse for my daughter, and all I could think about was how families were planning funerals. Planning funerals a week before Christmas. I just can't imagine what that must be like. If they are like me, they probably had most, if not all, of their Christmas gifts hidden away in their homes and couldn't wait for their kids to open them. They may have had an elf showing up every morning and links of paper counting down to Santa's big arrival. They had parties planned, gifts for their teachers, special Christmas outfits and that special giddy excitement kids have when the magic of Christmas nears. I sat in my living room with the dollhouse watching Anderson Cooper barely able to say the name of each victim as he too was overcome with grief. They were just sweet, innocent babies, and I couldn't help but stop and remind myself how lucky I am to have every single day that I do with my kids. It can end at any moment for any reason.
Later that week I attended the class parties of both kids. Walking through the halls of the school filled with happy, smiling kids wearing their best Christmas Party clothes nearly brought me to tears. Any shooting is beyond terrible, but to come into a place filled with such innocence, happiness and hope and create such carnage is simply beyond words.
Like most everyone else as well, I felt helpless. What can I, way over here in Texas, possibly do for those poor people. I sent prayers, we donated some money, and hugged our kids a little closer. But, what I really loved was how there was a movement to pay kindness forward. People were starting pay-it-forward lines at Starbucks (pay for the person behind you in line), opening doors for others, paying people compliments, or doing what felt right to them. Kindness goes farther than we can imagine - perhaps you make someone's day with just a smile or kind gesture. You'll never know it, but I'd like to think it will create a domino effect of good vibes throughout the community. We should make it habit rather than something we do for a few days after a tragedy.
It's been almost a month since Newtown. It's not on the forefront of the news any more, although people are rearing their ugly heads in the gun control debate. As Newtown moves out of the country's main focus, the families of those victims are just beginning the journey of how to figure out how to live without their loved ones. We owe it to them to continue to spread kindness and love rather than anger and hatred. The spirit of 6 and 7 year olds is one of love, happiness and hope. Let us all continue to pay it forward however we can and honor their spirits. Hug your kids, open doors for strangers, smile at someone, let someone in front of you when driving without worrying about the extra 15 second it may cost you. The positive energy will make a difference.