Last week, my heart was heavy along with the rest of the nation. I couldn’t believe the images I was seeing on the television. Terrified children, worried parents. First responders with their heads in their hands. I cannot even begin to understand the depth of grief the parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and friends of those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, CT are experiencing. I am just a stranger, living 3000 miles away from the small community of Sandy Hook. I am just a parent who hugged and held my children while I wept for those that no longer could. That night we prayed for those families, and for those children who left this earth way too soon. My beautiful son, not understanding what my saddness was for, looked at me and said, “They go to Heaven with Oliver”. That is the only point of reference he has for Heaven, it’s where our family pet went. I held him and told him how truly special he was. I wish I could keep him so innocent forever. I pray my children never have to feel overwhelming sadness or fear. I pray that when the time comes to ‘cut the strings’ and send my boys off to school, they will have special teachers like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Teachers who truly care about my boys and the other students they teach. I was so inspired to hear of the selflessness that took place inside those classrooms that day. All were courageous. There was the woman who stood in between her students and the terror that they were about to encounter. The woman who, while hiding in a closet, held each child’s face in her hands and told them she loved them – just so they could feel the love instead of the terror – just so they would die knowing they were loved (thankfully they all survived). The stories of courage and heroism that emerged amongst the grief was heartwarming. There was one story in particular that brought me to my knees with gratitude. It is the story of a paraeducator. A paraeducator is a person who sits with a student with special needs to give them academic assistance. This helps keep the child in mainstream classes. Eli will have paraeducators when he goes to school. This particular woman, Anne Marie Murphy, died while craddling her student in her arms. He died while engulfed in the arms of the teacher he loved. He was not alone. Read their beautiful story here. I pray that when Eli is in school, his paraeducator will love him as much as Anne Marie Murphy loved her student. God bless her. God bless all the teachers who go to work each day trying to improve the lives of our children. They should never have to be asked to die for their students but the fact that they did makes them heroes. I had become a little skeptical when it came to the education system in America. I wondered if my children will be able to get the learning experience they need. I was disheartened hearing about failing test scores and teachers that don’t care anymore. Last Friday, that was proven to me to be false. There are teachers that care. Care enough about our children that they would literally die for them. Today, tell a teacher thank you. I’m guessing they may not hear it enough. Thank you to my friends and family members who teach. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for caring about the future, the world’s children.
Please remember to cherish every moment you have with your children and loved ones. Don’t take time for granted. It is not guaranteed. This tragedy has made me appreciate the sticky floors and crayon marks on the walls. Ok, appreciate may be too strong a word – But, I try not to get too uptight. I am thankful for the moments – all of them.
God bless Newtown. God bless the angels.