Today as I drove my six year old to school, I listened to Christmas music. (Insert eye roll) Yes…our local radio station has already started playing holiday music and by the time December rolls around, I will likely be SICK of it.
So as I entered the massive car line (with less than 5 minutes to spare before the bell), a Christmas tune sung by a children’s choir came on and I was immediately transported back to December 2012. To a sunny Friday.
December 14, 2012.
As i waited in line to drop Jack off, I began thinking back to that horrific day in Newtown, CT. I remember how my heart sank when I first heard the news of the shooting. I remember feeling panicked about my own children. I wanted to pick them up early from school. I just wanted them with me, in my arms.
And as these memories raced through my mind, it was finally our turn to approach the curb. I looked in the backseat at my boy. He was wearing a navy blue hoodie, a gray shirt and jeans. His hair, although fixed prior to leaving the house, was a disheveled mess and I could see syrup from his morning pancakes on his chin. He smiled a big toothless grin (missing both front teeth) and said, “Have a good day, Mom.”
I looked back at him, “You too, Jack. I love you.”
“Love you, too! See you at the bus stop later.”
And he exited the car.
And as I watched him walk into the school, I thought of Noah Pozner. Little Noah Pozner, the youngest victim at Sandy Hook. I imagine his morning on December 14, 2012, was similar to this. I can see his mom or dad getting him ready for school. Maybe there were pancakes for breakfast or maybe it was cereal? What was he wearing? Was his hair as wild as Jack’s this morning? Did he forget to brush his teeth, too?
As I pulled away from the curb, I felt the first tear fall, quickly accompanied by a family of others. I quickly wiped them away and reminded myself that my children are fine. They are safe. I reminded myself that I didn’t lose a child that Friday in December. But yet, I still find myself grieving for all of them, especially Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto.
After the massacre there were thousands of people who began doing random acts of kindness in memory of the children lost. I did this for a long while. Always in memory of Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto. I felt a kinship with them, as I have sons that share their names. I would pay for the person behind me in the drive thru, carefully instructing the cashier to tell them it was in Noah and Jack’s memory. I would tip a server $20.00 and tell them about these two little angels, as I handed them the money. It was a mission of mine for a while. I was often moved by people’s response.
Now…fast forward two years later. I have since had another child, who was conceived 10 days after Sandy Hook. I am now divorced. I have the responsibility of caring for my parents. My roles at work have changed significantly. Things are just different now.
And I have had Noah on my mind since last week. I committed his and Jack’s birthdays to memory. Noah would have been eight on November 20. Jack would turn nine on May 6. I have spent a considerable time this weekend thinking of them. Wondering how their families are coping as we approach the two year anniversary. I cannot imagine the pain and grief they continue to experience. Especially during the holiday season.
All of this thought led me to a new place. I still want to honor these children’s memories. I still want to ensure they are remembered. But most importantly, I want to be present for my own children. I want to honor them each and every day by giving them the time they need. Sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, that just doesn’t happen. I am too distracted by all that must be done…all who are vying for my attention.
So today, November 10, I am changing my perspective. Regardless of what “must be done” or what “needs to be done” I am committing to my children…my own angels. And although I will continue to care for my parents, I will continue to be a great employee, and I will continue juggling all that I do, I am putting them first. I will stop and listen to Jack’s long dissertation on Star Wars. How Count Dooku is a bad man and how Obi Wan is a great Jedi Master. I will stop and answer his random and obscure questions about tornadoes. And even though my oldest, my Noah, is now 18, I will intently listen as he plays me a new song he’s written. I will gladly engage and dish with him on 90’s music and Kubrick movies. I will sit in the floor and play with baby ila. Giving her the interaction her ever-growing brain needs. I will embrace her curious spirit. I will be present.
To me, this is the best way I can honor and remember Noah and Jack.