One cannot get through life without pain…What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.

~Bernie S. Siegel~

I’ve tried to focus on the positive.  It is, after all, kind of my thing.  It’s what I do.  I look for the silver linings, I find blessings in the darkest of days.  But this past Friday, I was with the world, as we watched a horrific reality unfold in a quaint town in Connecticut.

It was mind numbing, it was hard to mentally process that something like that could actually be happening.  But sadly, as the day progressed, the dark and grim news was confirmed.  Life for so many families was forever changed.

Since that time, I’ve tried to keep away from some of the coverage, it was simply to difficult to watch. But no matter how hard I tried to keep my distance, I, like so many, find myself drawn back into the dialogue. The faces of the beautiful children etched into my memory, I feel such compassion for the parents and families of the fallen.  I have cried tears for them, knowing they are beginning a journey that no parent ever wants to contemplate.  I remember the physical, “punch you in the gut” kind of pain when you realize your child is gone.  The heaviness that descends on your life, slowing your movements, feeling like a crushing boulder on your shoulders as you try to muddle through.  You put one foot in front of the other, but it is as if you are pulling the weight of the world behind you.

I say this with the greatest of respect, and also with the understanding that I do not completely understand the type of grief that comes from a loss related to this level of violence, an event that puts their grieving hearts on the world’s stage.

So, I pray for them.  I send love and light to them, and hope that the kindness of others allows them brief moments of comfort. I pray that they will  be able to go on. It is truly the only thing I can do.  I am just another Mom, who knows what it is like to bury a child, to try to pick up the crumbled pieces of a life, and try and find a way back to living.

But there’s one more thing.  As citizens, we all have our part to play in what happens next.  We must not let this moment dissipate, and we all have a responsibility to do right by these children and their brave teachers.

We may never figure of the “why” question. People will surmise, they will point fingers in a variety of different directions when trying to determine accountability.  Why did this happen, how did this come to pass, where was God when this happened? Some will blame gun laws, some will blame a failing mental health system, some will blame God. So many questions mulled over in the one hour news shows as they try to come to grips with  something that simply will never make sense.  It will never really ever make sense to a rational mind.

So, I want to ask “What Now?”

It’s time now America.  It’s time now to have a discussion about the American Dream.  It’s time to really open our eyes and start asking ourselves some tough questions about what we really want for this country.  Do we want everyone armed, metal detectors at every school, movie theatre, shopping mall, place of worship or gas station?  Do we want to put measures in place that further separate and alienate ourselves from one another?  Or do we want to take a long hard look at what this country was truly designed to provide and create for its citizens?

If we want to come up with the best decisions, we need not look to the partisan talking points of our politicians.  We need not look to special interest groups for their crafted position statements.  If you want to create a country that lives up to the American Dream, look into the eyes of those children.  Look into the smiling faces of those brave teachers who gave the ultimate selfless sacrifice.  Sit down with the parents, and ask them what should happen now.  Listen to the stories of parents, dreams cut short, visions of graduations and weddings and grandchildren.

It’s time America.  It’s time to take care of our mentally ill, it’s time to look at realistic gun safety, it’s time to stop fighting with each other over political beliefs and preventing this country from growing and evolving.  It’s time to ask where we go from here.  We can’t let the outrage about this event dissipate as it has with others, with no real change being realized.  It’s time to look at each of our children, and honestly ask, “What Do They Deserve?”

As a bereaved parent, I understand how much that “why” question can haunt you.  Making peace with an incomplete answer is the hardest thing I personally have ever had to deal with, and I can only imagine that is compounded for these grieving families.

So, as we try to send love and support to this grieving community, let’s all start having a conversation about “What Now?”  Because something needs to change. We all have an opportunity to have a voice in this discussion, and create a more peaceful country that honors the lives of those lost.

Sending prayers and love to those who are suffering,