With so much heaviness hanging in the air since the collective psyche of this country was changed forever last week, I wanted to lighten things up a bit and let you know that your donations have been turned into real life gifts that have been arriving at their destinations, being wrapped, and hidden away for Christmas morning.
Gift cards have been sent and are being turned into food for their tables. And bodies will be kept warm with coats, gloves, pants, hoodies, hats, etc.
A special thank you to the helper elves who have, in some cases, offered to receive and wrap on their end to present to the families.
I received an update from the mother of the family that moved so many of us to tears and action a couple weeks ago. I wanted to share some excerpts with you so you can see just how REAL are the results of your donations.
Love you all, Linda
YES! Thank you so much. We found a rental home but today had to
call them because of a major leak in the floor from the bathroom pipe and water
was pouring in the basement. We even had an inspection done. (sigh) Please pray
for us, the stress of everything right now has been enormous. But, your group
has given us such heartfelt gratitude toward you and knowing that things will be
okay and we can get through it and our challenges to come soon.
afraid that I am not going to be able to keep up with addresses while we are in
the process of moving. Can I write one big one that you can post to everyone? I
thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for us. I
have received 2 packages at my mother in laws and 2 at the P.O. Box. I have to
go to the P.O. Box today. They did say there were more. I do not go but about
once a week. When I saw the one you sent for **** with her favorite boy band,
she will cry when she sees it because she will be so excited. Thank you for the
work that you are doing for so many. I pray that God blesses each and every one
I am sure you have heard by now about ***** latest from **** .
When we went last Friday a week ago, the MRI showed that his chiari was fixed so
we were happy about that. However, the spinal MRI continued to show the syrinx
which we knew he had but also showed that he has a tethered spinal cord.
He has been in so much pain lately and we figured his pain should have
been better since his surgery for the brain chiari was done in August. The
tethered spinal cord is so bad that he needs surgery again. They were trying to
push for it to be January 4th but they are jumping through hoops right now with
our insurance because once he is discharged from the hospital, we have to make
sure he has the nursing and physical therapy services that we will need.
Everything has to be set up this time. They did nothing that they were supposed
to last time in regards to that. Dealing with the insurance can be such a
He will be admitted for his spinal cord tethered cord
surgery on January 15th, 2013, with surgery being on the 16th. He will be in the
hospital for about 6 - 7 days as long as we do not have the problems like we did
the last surgery. We are crushed and devastated that he has to go through more
surgery. He has been having a really hard time dealing with it and we both seem
to cry constantly. I am trying hard to let him know that everything will be okay
and that many are praying for him. His neurosurgeon told us to take time and
enjoy Christmas as a family before this next surgery and your group has made
this possible. Bless each and everyone of you.
In October of 2006, in the wake of the Amish schoolhouse shootings,
my sister had posed the above question to me, "How do you do it?"
She was referring to how I send my children to school each day.
She asked it again after Virginia Tech.
In light of last week's rampage in an elementary school, and the
number of emails I have received from parents around the world in the
past 36 hours, I wanted to revisit the article, in the hopes that it may
shed light on how we parents love, and how we manage to let go of our
children each day.
I would also like to encourage all parents to talk about what
happened last week with your children. I know the kneejerk reaction is
to protect them from all the bad things that happen in this world, but
in wanting to shield them, parents also do a disservice to them. Kids,
even elementary age children, can understand, process, and learn from
what takes place in the world around them.
They can handle it. And the questions they conjure in their heads
are always scarier than the actual answers. If left without answers
they will make them up on their own - and they are never going to be
accurate - Kids are insanely creative people.
So as much as it may sicken a parent to accept that times have
changed so very much from when we were in school, it is a reality which
must be faced head on. Believe me, teaching my daughters to hit the
deck and play dead should they ever hear gunshots in their schools is
nothing I ever envisioned doing when I first held my oldest daughter.
But I remind myself that in those first moments of her life, I wasn't
just falling in love, I was also promising to protect her, to the
absolute best of my ability, laying down my life if necessary, to insure
she grew up to blaze a path through this world. And that means that
I have prepared her and her sisters, I armed them with tactics, I have made them
aware of things to look for, strategies to use, and yes, to play dead.
My youngest child is 16. She is in her third year of high school. And she will be leaving us
for college before we can even blink. I have to know, that like her older sisters before her, I have not
sheltered her so much that her only reaction would be to freeze. I have
to know she has been empowered, to the best of my ability to do so,
with information, answers, and an honest assessment of the world in
which she lives.
As parents, we cannot hope for our children to make a difference in
this world, if they do not know what is going on in it. I promise you,
my daughters (20, 19, and 16) have never been frightened by our
conversations (9/11, the tsunami, Iraq), but rather they are empowered.
Knowledge is power, even when the person is only 10.
How Do You Do It?
"How do you do it?"
The question was posed to me by my sister after seeing yet another school shooting reported on CNN.
"How do you do it? How do you send your kids to school each day?"
It’s a fair question especially given the recent spate of shootings
taking place around the country. No place is safe, no area too remote.
Internal angst and bullets are equal opportunity terrorizers.
Aug. 24, 2006 Essex, Vermont.
Christopher Williams, 27, looking for his ex-girlfriend at Essex
Elementary School, shot two teachers, killing one and wounding another.
Before going to the school, he had killed the ex-girlfriend's mother.
Sept. 13, 2006 Montreal, Canada. Kimveer
Gill, 25, opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon at Dawson College.
Anastasia De Sousa, 18, died and more than a dozen students and faculty
were wounded before Gill killed himself.
Sept. 26, 2006 Bailey, Colo.
Adult male held six students hostage at Platte Canyon High School,
sexually assaulted them and then shot and killed Emily Keyes, 16, and
Sept. 29, 2006 Cazenovia, Wis. A 15-year-old student shot and killed Weston School principal John Klang.
Oct. 3, 2006 Nickel Mines, Pa.
32-year-old Carl Charles Roberts IV entered the one-room West Nickel
Mines Amish School and shot 10 schoolgirls, ranging in age from 6 to 13
years old, and then himself. Five of the girls and Roberts died.
October 9, 2006 Joplin, Missouri 13 year old male student, obsessed with Columbine,
walks into his own school carrying an assault rifle, fires it into the
ceiling and then thankfully the gun jams. He runs out of the school but
is caught by authorities.
And those are just the ones that have been carried out in the past
two months. What of the number of vicious plans that have been thwarted?
The following only cover March and April of this year (2006). There have been just as many since.
March 1, 2006: Muscatine, Iowa A 17-year-old male
former high school student was arrested in connection with a plot of a
Columbine-type school massacre, which he allegedly shared online with a
19-year-old female. Police reportedly found crude explosives at his
March 2, 2006: Greenwood, Ind. (Incidentally, the high school from which I graduated)Four
high school students were arrested for allegedly plotting to harm or
hold hostage the high school's principal. Students who overheard the
suspects talking about bringing guns into the school notified school
administrators, and police were called to investigate.
March 20, 2006: Rochester Hills, Mich. An
18-year-old male high school student was arrested and charged with
writing a threat on a bathroom wall to bring a gun to school and start a
massacre he called "Columbine Part Two."
March 24, 2006: Foley, Ala. Two male high
school students, ages 15 and 16, were arrested and charged with planning
to carry out a shooting plot at their high school on the seventh
anniversary of the Columbine High School attack on April 20.
April 5, 2006: Atco, N.J. Four teenagers, ages
14 to 16, were arrested and charged in connection with a plot to kill
25 people in their high school lunchroom on the anniversary of the
Columbine attack. Students reported the information to school
administrators, who notified police.
April 7, 2006: Pierce County, Wash. Three male
middle school students, ages 12, 13 and 14, were arrested in connection
with a plot where they allegedly planned to steal guns, force their
school into a lockdown, set fire to the school, and kill an
administrator, group of teachers, and "preppy" students. They then
allegedly planned to blend in with the other students to escape the
building and avoid police, with a backup plan involving stealing a
teacher's car to get away. Police are seeking a 14-year-old female who
may also have been involved in the plot.
April 17, 2006: Platte City, Mo. Two male
students, both 18, were arrested in connection with a school shooting
plot targeting an assistant principal, students, and other faculty
members. The principal reported the incident after the suspects
allegedly told other students about their plan, which included planting
explosives and bringing weapons to the school on the seventh anniversary
of the Columbine shootings.
April 20, 2006: Riverton, Kan. Five
male high school students, ages 16 to 18, were arrested in connection
with a plot to disable the school's camera system and commit a shooting
rampage between noon and 1 p.m. on April 20, the seventh anniversary of
Columbine. A threat related to the alleged plot was discovered on
Myspace.com, and a North Carolina woman who chatted with a suspect
online notified police in her state, who contacted the sheriff in the
suspects' county. Police reportedly found guns, ammunition, knives and
coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect, and papers about firearms
and Armageddon in two students' lockers.
April 22, 2006: North Pole, Alaska Six
students were arrested in connection with an alleged plot by a group of
seventh-graders to shut off power and phone service at their school,
and kill students and faculty members with guns and knives before
escaping their small town of about 1,600 people. A parent reportedly
notified police of the planned attack.
Columbine. A school shooting that has gone on to warpedly inspire
other seriously misguided, jilted, misfit youths. They scour the
internet for information on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. They download
instructions for homemade bombs. They secretly obtain weapons, make hit
lists, and plan their own day of bloody reckoning.
So again, given the mucked up state of the world, the uptick in
recent shootings, and the fact that not even an Amish one room
schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere is safe, my sister has every right
to ask me such a pointed question.
I don’t know.
That’s right. I don’t know.
Believe me, it is not that I don’t think about it. And anyone who
reads me regularly knows I certainly do not live in a dreamworld of
denial. Rather, I think about it every single day that I drop my
daughters off in front of their schools and ask God for one thing: That I
see them again at the end of the day.
Anyone who has a child will understand what I’m about to say. For those who do not have children, allow me to enlighten you. With
rare exception, we parents are good, loving, caring, nurturing people,
and we would all gladly jump in front of a train to protect our
offspring. I have often been quoted as saying I am capable of killing someone with a spoon if they touch my children.
That is how strong the love is, that is how powerful the rage would be if someone tried to harm them.
So depositing them at school is not an act of detachment, in fact, in
this day and age, it is an act of bravery. An act of hope. And more
than anything, an act of faith.
Faith that the administrators follow their highly touted child
protection rules when allowing adults past the main office. Faith that,
in the event of a security breach, lockdown procedures are implemented
immediately inside the building. And faith that all the other parents
are on top of their game, knowing exactly what their children are
feeling, facing, experiencing, up to.
I have often said that I don’t know how you take the next breath if
something fatal befalls your child. How a parent draws the next breath
that slams home to them that they are still alive and their child is
not. That their life is moving forward, while their baby’s is now
I pray for those who must face that next breath. And I pray equally
hard that I am never face to face with that oxygen which means I am in
this world without one of my children.
Many parents turn to homeschooling as an answer. They figure if their
children are never out of their sight, then nothing bad can happen.
Perhaps they are right. But the big bad world is still going to be there
when their children grow up. And I personally believe that by
sequestering my children from it, they would miss out on much of what
they need to grow into aware, experienced adults.
My opinion. My belief. My choice. Not a blanket condemnation of anyone who chooses to homeschool their children.
So, how do I do it everyday?
I wake them, feed them, make sure they brush their teeth, and pack
their lunches. And then I head out in the minivan, soaking in every
giggle, every homework complaint, every sound they make.
They MUST remain more than just names. They must be touchstones for change, the impetus for us to be better, to do better, to treat one another better.
Let their memory, and the thought of all they could have been, yet now cannot be, spur us on, leading us to a better tomorrow.
20 children, 12 little girls, 8 little boys. Surely the playgrounds of heaven are alive with the sound of their laughter as they embark on an unending recess - supervised and cared for in death as they were in life, by their teachers - where the sun always shines, the gentle breezes always blow, and terror does not even have a name.
Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06
- Daniel Barden, 9/25/05
- Rachel Davino, 7/17/83
- Olivia Engel, 7/18/06
- Josephine Gay, 12/11/05
- Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06
- Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06
- Dawn Hocksprung, 06/28/65
- Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06
- Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06
- Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05
- Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06
- James Mattioli , 3/22/06
- Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05
- Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60
- Emilie Parker, 5/12/06
- Jack Pinto, 5/06/06
- Noah Pozner, 11/20/06
- Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06
- Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06
- Avielle Richman, 10/17/06
- Lauren Russeau, 6/1982
- Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56
- Victoria Soto, 11/04/85
- Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06
- Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06
It has now been 24+ hours since another gaping wound was ripped through the heart of our society.
And I mean globally.
Not just Newtown where the grief is so thick in the air it must surely feel like each breath is laden with molasses.
Not just in this country where every decent person's heart has been heavy with empathy, sympathy, the stone cold fear that it could just as easily have been our own children.
No, the grief is being felt around the world. Vigils have been held in different languages, candles lit in countries far and wide. Because decent people live everywhere. Because love does not have borders. Because what unites us is far greater than what divides us.
Obviously this is not the first time children have become targets in someone's game of Mass Casualty. It has happened outside our country's borders, and inside our own states - tragedy visited upon innocents time and time again.
And every time, with every person who ever finds themselves staring into the camera lens after a horrific scene like yesterday's, the words still echo the same, "I never thought it would happen here."
No one ever does.
The problem is that "Here" is a moving target. "Here" is an equal opportunity destroyer. "Here" shows no allegiance to a single location. And "Here" likes nothing better than to sneak up and surprise an entire community.
At this writing, the details are still far from complete. What we do know is that a 911 call came in from Sandy Brook Elementary at roughly 930am. Then one call became many.
By the time the police gained access, and it was quickly, the shooter was dead. Let me rephrase that. The COWARD was dead. At his own hand.
We have learned his name was Adam Lanza. He was 20. Reports are that he may have had autism of some level, a personality disorder.
In the end, that makes no difference.
Whoever this animal was, he came, saw, deliberately unloaded his weapon(s) (reloading several times to amass such a number of victims), and then exited forever, leaving only trauma, taking with him any answers.
Not that any answer could ever justify the bloodshed and loss of innocent life seen yesterday.
20 little children. 6 educators.
Like you, my heart goes out to the students who will live with these memories. I physically ache for the parents of all of them. And I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of those parents who waited yesterday for their child to emerge and be brought to that firestation, only to find out that they will be waiting forever.
These families have been ripped asunder. No one sends their 5 year old off in the morning thinking they will become a human target before lunchtime. No one should have to think anything even remotely like that.
But we do. Dear God help us all. We do.
I am angry. Angry that yet another waste of oxygen has decided to play God and end the lives of so many innocent people.
My message to people like him? If you are hellbent on leaving? Just leave. Find your balls and stick that gun in your own mouth and pull the goddamn trigger and leave the rest of us out of your miserable equation.
We don’t need you.
I don’t care if your childhood was pure shit. I don’t give a rat’s ass if your girlfriend dumped you or if you just lost your job. I don’t care if you have chronic acne and never got laid. I don’t give two shits in a whirlwind that you believe you have been slighted, maligned, misunderstood, or marginalized by someone or something in this life.
We all go through shit. We all get treated in ways we don’t appreciate at some point in our lives. We all experience disappointments, let-downs, slights, heartbreaks, dashed hopes, crushed dreams, bad people, and life’s general ability to make us feel small.
That does not give us the right to strike out and demand some gory retribution.
So, Adam Lanza? I’m glad you’re dead. Call it un-Christian. Call it callous. I don’t care.
I am also angry that inconsiderate talking airheads have taken to the microphones to pour acid into the wounds of those who have lost loved ones and claim that God abandoned them yesterday because we have kicked God out of the schools.
Fuck the Mike Huckabees and Bryan Fischers of this world. And fuck anyone who agrees with them. Who would dare even insinuate that those 20 children had their blood shed because we don't pray to THEIR God during the schoolday.
God does not belong in a publicly funded school. God belongs in the
church of those who choose to worship. God is not some weapon to be
wielded in this fashion, or shoved down the throats of those who believe
There are 10,000+ gods worshipped in this world of ours. And MY constitution guarantees that I do not have to be subject to any of them.
If God is the problem, please explain to me where he is at when alter boys are being assraped by priests in the vestibule? Where was he when the Amish schoolhouse shooting took place? Seems to me those places are steeped in prayer, and Bibles lay about like so much confetti.
Yet God surely has abandoned those people, too. Frankly, the god of the Mike Huckabees sounds like a firstclass prick. I am sick of it all.
I am sick of gun defenders. Guns ARE a problem. Don't give me your 2nd amendment bullshit. You want what was intended in the writing of those words? Fine. You get a single shot musket. That's it, that's all, because that is all the founding fathers knew about.
I am sick of fear. The fear of some cretin with loose screws targeting someone I love.
And I am especially sick of the Godladen fearmongering and those who deign to speak for Him. What those people in Newtown need is our love, our support, our promise to be here to shore them up, carry them forward. Not derision, not condemnation, not some asshole telling them they screwed up because little Johnny wasn't on his knees before his milk break saying The Lord's Prayer.
Mr. Huckabee, there is a special place in Hell for people like you and Mr. Fischer. Pack light, I hear it's rather balmy.
Oh, and don't expect to see any of yesterday's victims. THEY were innocent. YOU are evil incarnate.
24 hours ago I spoke these words at the remembrance ceremony for the young man who left us so suddenly earlier this year. I never imagined something so awful would take place in this world that would make these words even more relevant. As I go to bed tonight, holding every parent, friend, coworker, and relative of Newtown, Connecticut close in my heart, I offer some of them here.
Their journey through unspeakable, unimaginable grief is just beginning. And as shock sustains them, and God takes the next breaths for them until they are again able to take them for themselves, I pray time does for them what it inevitably does for us all when faced with so much more than we ever thought we would be forced to bear.
When we last gathered in this place, our pain was palpable, our grief was new,
and shock was what sustained us.
And then time stepped in and did what it so cruelly, yet so brilliantly,
does: it makes us keep moving. It forces us, drags us, demands we greet
another new sunrise, take another breath.
And in doing so, it pulls us to the place where we shine as human
beings. And that would be in our ability
As humans, we don’t simply experience things and move on. We make memories. We store them.
And we can recall them at will.
Sometimes, even without effort, they spring forth on their own, washing
over us, delivering a smile, a tear, allowing us to relive a moment in
time. Not just in our heads, but in our
At the risk of sounding all Titanic-y, I do believe that the heart does go
on. I do believe that Evan’s heart,
Evan’s energy, Evan’s gifts do go on.
That is our purpose here
Whenever you remember him in your own solitude, he is there with you. If even for that fleeting moment before
escaping back into the ether. He is there.
And tonight, as we share in the most powerful and palpable of our human
gifts: Time, in its power to have moved us forward to this place, and Memory
that allows us to look back with love and laughter – Evan is here.
He is most definitely, HERE.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”
As Newtown faces its worst days, I know they, too, will all carry their "diaries" forward with them, while time does what it so callously yet so amazingly will do - deliver them to a place where the shock dissipates to be replaced by the beautiful memories that ultimately sustain us all.
UPDATE 5pm EST: The number of dead children now stands at 20. 7 adults also died in the attack.
27 dead. 18 of them children.
And that is just a preliminary number meaning the horror in Connecticut will probably grow as the hours tick by.
An elementary school. A goddamned elementary school. Our youngest, our most innocent, those with the brightest eyes, the most still to learn, the best chance for our future.
And 18 of those innocents lay dead. Victims of the shooter, Adam Lanza, another coward with a gun. His mother, lay dead in his residence as well.
18 children - K-4th grade - who woke up this morning, put on their tennis shoes, ate their Pop Tarts, packed their homework into backpacks, kissed their parents goodbye and walked into another day of learning, laughing, macaroni art, macaroni and cheese school lunches, and a little daydreaming about the holidays just ahead.
The horror that unfolded instead is beyond hard to imagine. Not since Columbine have we truly had to face so many of our children being so violently taken.
Yes, there have been other shootings. Yes, the memories of the movie massacre are still fresh.
But there is something about someone violating the should-be safety of our schools and taking what is not theirs to take.
We send our children to school each morning, and have learned from past tragedies to hug a little tighter, look a little longer, and pray a little harder that we see them again at the end of the day. That we get to hear them complain about Algebra, a pain in the ass schoolmate, gush about a cute boy or girl, a football game, or just watch them kick their shoes off, eat some Oreos, and turn on the TV.
I have long felt my heart held in a vice each day because I know high schools are inherently dangerous in this day and age. My child has been in a classroom with a loaded gun. Thankfully the friend only turned it on herself not on others. But I never worried when they were in elementary school. I just didn't. Blissful ignorance? No. I don't think so. Or at least I didn't.
But maybe today simply proves me wrong.
No place is safe. No school. No mall. No movie theater. No place of worship. In the blink of an eye, in the heartless snapping of some sinister coward's mental twig, lives are taken, lives are forever changed.
Of course, the cowardly piece of shit who took so many, lay dead at his own hand inside the school. Why he could not just eat his fucking gun is beyond me. It will always be beyond me why these sinister, unstable, malicious, unfeeling monsters cannot just take themselves out of THEIR misery instead of plunging us into OURS.
Hannukah is underway. Christmas is 11 days from now. Gifts will lay unopened. Some may not have yet been wrapped. And instead of laying them under the Christmas tree, God bless the parents who must now lay their beloved children to rest.
My heart is breaking, the tears are falling. My thoughts are with those parents who are slowly being told the worst thing they will ever hear in their lives. That their child is not coming home, that their next breath must be taken without that child taking it, too, that there will be no more beautiful complaints about homework, and that there simply will be no waking from this nightmare before Christmas.
Elfing has been going on full speed ahead at the "not quite" North Pole (although Austin's temps have been reindeer worthy lately).
Warm clothes, toys, electricity, blankets, and, yes, grocery store giftcards. As I have indicated previously, this year is so much more about need than just about wanting to keep Santa alive. Putting food on tables is taking a front row seat.
We have another family who has simply reached out for that - help in getting through another month with food on their sparse table.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, this will be our last push for donations. If you can help, every dollar will be put to work making this holiday season brighter, warmer, less hungry, less stressful. And perhaps give those who we are helping a brighter outlook on their new year.