Grace and Parenting after Sandy Hook

Its been three weeks since Sandy Hook.  We’ve cried, mourned, been angry and started getting political.  But life has picked up and moved on.  America is now playing with their new toys and gadgets and are starting to put away the Christmas decorations.  While the rest of us are moving on there are 26 families who are frozen in time.  I can’t help but think about these parents who must find a way to continue with life.  How in the world can they get out of bed in the morning, let alone send their other children to school?  I think about this because every time I’m at Target I see Time magazine (or which ever magazine it is) with those 20 precious faces staring at me, daring me to think, what would I do, how would I carry on?

Have you seen this magazine in the check out line?  How in the world did that phone call to those parents go?  “Hi, this is editor for Check-Out-Line magazine.  We’re so sorry for your loss but we would like permission to put your child’s picture on the cover of this month’s issue.”   What the what?!  If I look at it even for a moment my mind puts my own precious 8 year old’s face in the mix.  The emotions start swelling and I have to turn away.  I have to turn my emotions off because if I allow myself to think about it I would become a blubbering mess as I try to unload my grocery cart.  Then I start feeling guilty for turning away.  Tonight my babies will be snug in their beds, but those parents have empty beds in their houses.  My life goes on as usual and theirs will never be the same and somehow that gives me a sense of hopelessness and helpless.  Hopeless because that is my gut reaction to how I would feel if I lost one of my children in the way that they lost theirs.  Helpless because I know those parents will go on suffering while the rest of us get to hug our kids when they come home from school today.

The Sunday after Sandy Hook was the baby dedication at our church.  It’s always a precious time and I always get a little misty eyed.  There is a congregational response in which we all say  “As a congregation of God’s family, it is our sacred obligation and privilege, along with these parents, to enfold these children in our affection and continuing care….  We pledge to forgive them in error, and protect them from all that is evil and unjust…”   When I said those last words, protect them from all that is evil and unjust, my voice caught in my throat and I nearly lost it.  There is evil in this world and sometimes we can’t protect our babies from it and what in the hell am I supposed to do with that?

So what do we do now?  I’m sorry to say that I’m at a loss and I wish I knew the answer.  We will have to have difficult discussions about gun control and mental health services and security in schools and who knows what else.  So we will continue loving our kids, cherishing them and leading a normal life.  But what about those families that will never be the same?  I suppose the rest of us will get back into our normal routines, the kids will drive us crazy, time will pass and Sandy Hook will start to fade in our memory.  Just like Aurora and the shopping mall and Columbine.  We can’t live our lives in a constant state of anxiety or we will just spin our wheels and cease to become productive, loving parents who produce anxious, high-strung children.  Can we lead normal lives but still remember the parents that grieve?  The best I can come up with is Grace says “yes”.  Grace allows us to love our families and allow our hearts to break a little for those suffering loss.  Maybe we can’t travel across the country to hug those parents and bring them a hot dish but maybe we can do that for someone right in our own communities.  Someone is suffering right under our noses, we don’t have to look far.  Rather than tell them about the love of Jesus what if we showed it.  It’s something to think about.

How are you moving on?

9 Responses

  1. Chris Carter

    OH Stephanie, this is sooooo good. You wrote exactly what’s on my heart!!! I see those People Magazines everywhere and they just break my heart right back open every time I look at those precious children. I struggle just like you, with all you said. So beautifully written! I love the end… your thoughts and ideas bring “hope” to your “hopeless” and “Help” to your “helpless”…

    • Hugs, Kisses and Snot

      Thank you! You’re so right…just when I think I’m getting better I see the pics of the kids going back to school and the angels along the side of the road. gah!

  2. Amy@afternoonpopcornsnack

    I have not been able to get those parents out of my mind. Your post is so poignant. Their pain is immeasurable and I’m somewhat disgusted with how media and the political arenas have taken advantage of this horrible tragedy.

  3. chicenvelopements

    I enter my Kindergarten classroom and welcome fifty five and six year olds with a different heart these days. I’ve always loved them, but it’s much more intense now. I’ve always known each and every child was special, but now it’s so different. I didn’t think I could make deeper connections with them than I already did, but now, I don’t take one moment with them for granted. I’ve always known, to be trusted with these beautiful perfect souls is such a privilege and an honor and I’ve been reminded of that. What a gift to be able to spend the day with these children. This is my focus each day.

  4. Julie @ Lilacs & Longhorns

    Loved this post, Stephanie and love all the reader comments as well. I just saw the magazine cover the other day and had to fight back tears. I can’t even imagine how the parents of lost children and the parents of children who survived are coping. I’m not sure I could send my child back to school after that. It is going to be a long time before those families heal. It is still unfathomable to me that it all actually happened. I am still hugging my kids tighter and hope that the tragedy will always provide me with perspective on those difficult parenting days.

  5. A Disciples of Christ Minister’s Response to Sandy Hook « Hugs, Kisses and Snot

    […] I know this is long but it is so worth it.  Rev. David Spain of First Christian Church of Norman gave this sermon on January 6 and I knew the minute I heard it that his message needed to go out beyond our congregation.  We need to keep this conversation going lest we become too comfortable in our every day lives, fall back into our routines and Sandy Hook fades in our memory. […]

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