I listened as a survivor's dad gave his account of rushing to the school to find out if his child was dead or alive. Then, after being directed to a local fire station, he frantically bounced his eyes from wall to wall until they finally found his son. Elation. His smiling, living son. The dad said it was "the best holiday gift he had ever received."
I heard other parents recount the first-hand stories their children had told them... how they heard what sounded like "pans falling" all over the school, how their teachers locked them in classrooms and closets, and how caring adults instructed them to close their eyes as they were led out of the school building (so they wouldn't see the dead bodies of their classmates).
|AP Photo/Newton Bee/Shannon Hicks|
Today, both my girls came down with the stomach virus. I woke up to vomit, smelled it as I put them to bed, and washed umpteen loads of laundry in between. I also got lots of sick baby lovins'. It was a messy, beautiful day. And in spite of the circumstances, I was so very thankful for it all. I know 20 sets of parents who would give anything to rock their sick children and put them to bed tonight... they'll never get to again.
Every day as a parent you experience amazing love. Love that, before kids, you didn't know could exist. But then there's those moments... certain moments that stop you dead in your tracks. When you're walking through the living room and you see your first-born, who's fallen asleep watching Rudolph, snuggled up in the recliner. And something about her yanks your heart plum out of your chest. She's worn out from being sick, yet she is so peaceful. So beautiful. So perfect. And you are absolutely overwhelmed by your love for her.
Moments like that are magnified now. The Newtown tragedy demands it. It demands we don't overlook the little things, the tiny moments, the kids asleep in the recliner. Instead we stop, we gaze longer, we breathe them in, and we thank God over and over we've been given a little more time to be their mommy...
My girls don't know there's been a tragedy in Newtown. They have no idea the world has changed. But I hope they notice a little change in their world -- a mommy who is more attentive, more patient and more devoted to quality time. I want them to know they are my world, and though I've never stared in the face of loss directly, they're still the best holiday gift I've ever received.