Our Christmas Eve tradition always begins with lighting a candle for our loved ones who are no longer with us. It is a way for us to remember them and to keep them in our hearts for the holidays.
Last year, a candle was also lit for twenty seven additional people – all were strangers, yet quickly our hearts were enveloped in love.
Exactly one year ago today, Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He also took the life of his mother.
The words and circumstances still continue to send chills down my spine.
I vividly remember as we watched the story unfold on the news, the sense of loss surrounded each and every one of us – we were united as one.
For an all too brief moment, it didn’t matter if you had a natural childbirth or an epidural – nursed or bottle fed your child – home schooled or sent your child to a public school.
For this moment we were one united parent trying to comprehend the undeniable pain and suffering of losing a child. Our hearts collectively bled for the families who were enduring this tragic loss.
The loss of these twenty seven people brought us together in a way that very few circumstances could.
On this day, we met the reality that twenty children died…never to grow and become who they were meant to be.
They were robbed of a life – but their death was not in vain.
Through their death, we questioned our own mortality and we were forced to explore our actions.
We remembered to hug a little bit tighter and to love a little bit more.
We tucked our children into bed with more conviction than ever before.
We said the words, “I love you,” and they were no longer mere words – the words came from our core.
The only thing that mattered was holding our children in our arms.
We connected to the true meaning of life…and the reality of death.
Today one year has passed.
And while most of us have gone back to our day to day lives, the families of the victims have been plagued with trying to find their new normal.
They have lived through a year of firsts without their loved one.
There is an empty chair at their dinner table.
The void is felt with every breath and every ounce of their being.
To think of these families reliving this pain today on the one year anniversary is simply unbearable.
But I spend this day in gratitude that I have been given the gift of remembrance – I am reminded to reconnect to those who are closest to my heart.
I am blessed.
Today, I challenge you to stop and take a moment – collectively say a prayer, light a candle, and remember.
Sometimes it’s easier to forget.
But it is through remembering that we can keep these spirits alive – we need to remember what was and what could have been.
Today offers us a choice to once again unite. To support each other as opposed to judging one another.
To once again hug a little tighter and to love a little harder.
And to use the words, “I love you,” with meaning…
It gives us a chance to reconnect to our loved ones, in a world where we take so much for granted.
Today I light a candle to honor and remember.
And I give thanks to these victims for once again reminding me what this life is truly about.
In Loving Memory,