A Letter to the Moms of Newtown on Mother’s Day

Your kids have not been forgotten.  I think about you and them most every day.  December 14 will always hold a new significance for me and so many others.  The day that changed your life forever, making it at times seem unrecognizable, no doubt, has in some small way touched me, too.  I am so very sorry for what was so brutally taken from you on that day — your child and your innocence.

Mother’s Day is Sunday.  My guess is that this is not a day of joy or celebration for you.  You will not be fussing over where to get brunch or wishing you had more time for yourself.  You probably have too much time for yourself these days.  Too much time to think and feel and mourn.  There may be no comforting you this first Mother’s Day without your child.

You probably see the commercials, hear the ads touting the question, “What’s for Mom this Mother’s Day?”  Buy this necklace!  Eat our food!  Smell our flowers!  It can be oppressive.  I, too, have a young child that is not with me on this day.  She is gone for entirely different reasons, illness and not violence.  But her absence gives me a glimpse into the loss you may feel and how the frequent reminders of MOTHER’S DAY we see and hear do nothing more than turn up the volume of our grief.

I pledge not to forget you or your children.  I pledge to recognize the impact their violent death has had on me.  I pledge to reject the belief that standing in solidarity with mothers who are mourning the loss of their child from guns is somehow a political statement.  I pledge to remember what was taken from you on December 14, 2012.

Charlotte Bacon

Daniel Barden

Olivia Engel

Josephine Gay

Ana Marquez-Greene

Dylan Hockley

Madeleine Hsu

Catherine Hubbard

Chase Kowalski

Jesse Lewis

James Mattioli

Grace McDonnell

Emilie Parker

Jack Pinto

Noah Pozner

Caroline Previdi

Jessica Rekos

Avielle Richman

Benjamin Wheeler

Allison Wyatt

It is so important to say the names, your child’s name.  May you always speak them, because if you don’t, no one will.  May you find a way to honor them and their years on this earth.  May you only know compassion as you figure out how to move forward without your child.

That, I fear, will be the tricky part.  In the days after December 14, people everywhere, moms especially, were stricken by what happened in the halls and classrooms of Sandy Hook Elementary.  It was unfathomable.  We held our kids tighter, fed them ice cream for dinner, showered them with the kisses you yourself could no longer dole out.  We cried on those first days dropping them off at school, worried if they would be safe, wondering if any of us would ever feel safe again.

And then, like life, we moved on.  Dinners needed to be made, clothes needed to be cleaned and folded, bills needed to be paid, groceries needed buying.  Life moved on, as it always does, even in the most devastating of times.  I still see you.  Despite the dinners I make, the clothes I fold, the bills I pay, the groceries I buy.  Despite the busy-ness of my days, I see you.  I remember you.  I will not forget.  That life moving on business is yet another of the cruel things you have encountered.

Somehow your children, with their backpacks and soccer balls and art smocks, have become symbols for all of America, a dividing line of sorts, in the proverbial sands of gun legislation.  Politics has overtaken the empathy.  For that I am truly and deeply sorry, ashamed almost.  I know your children are so much more than symbols.  I wish everyone understood that.  I am sorry if this national discussion your tragedy has sparked diminishes them in any way.  Your children and their lives are so much more than a tipping point.

Be strong, mothers of Newtown.  Choose hope.  Choose to believe that your grief will not always be so consuming.  Choose to honor your children in whatever way makes sense to you.  Choose to understand that allowing laughter and love and light into your lives will in no way dishonor your child’s memory.  My wish for you is the same thing I wish for myself and all mothers missing a child on Mother’s Day.  Peace, strength, hope, joy, and love.  These are the things that will nudge you forward, not away from your grief, but in a more comfortable spot within your grief.

I see you this Mother’s Day, and I remember your children.  

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