Monday, December 17, 2012

This is it.

Jay's First Day of 1st Grade
It took two days to hit me.  I had felt shock, fear, gratitude, worry...It took two days to feel genuinely SAD.  

Our children's program was yesterday.  It was on my mind as the kids came in.  I teared up as they sang song after song about Jesus's birth. 

The raw sadness hit when they left the stage.  Empty chairs. 18 empty chairs in the front row.  Mentally I add two more chairs.  

Empty chairs...where smiling faces had just been.

20 kids that had most likely been practicing for their own Christmas program.

20 kids, just like these joyful kids in front of me, singing about Jesus and LOVE.

20 kids that had done nothing wrong.

20 kids that have parents who will have a lasting image of a little LLBean bookbag getting smaller and smaller, then disappearing behind closed doors.

I'm holding my own tiny Lucy in my arms as the tears fall.  Her innocent smile.  Her whole life ahead of her.  

I look beside me at Justin holding my sweet Betsy.  She's so happy...feeling all fancy in her new polka dot tights.  I look over to my left and I see my first born sitting with his group, surrounded by his friends.  Adorable little faces...all dressed in their Christmas program best...little friends I'm thankful to have grown closer to in K Sunday School and VBS.  He smiles and waves. The tears keep falling.

20 chairs will be empty in their church. 
An entire classroom will be empty in their school. 

A little voice. "Mommy, why are you crying?"  It makes me cry harder to know that I can't even tell her why I'm crying because the sins of that day are too horrific.  I just say, "Because I just love you so much and am so proud of you."

Carefully selected gifts this Christmas that will be given away, unopened by their intended recipient.  Empty stockings.

Empty chairs at the dinner table.

Empty beds filled with loveys and blankies and favorite stuffed animals.

Already printed Christmas cards that will be a lasting eerie image of the final family picture.

Parents who will ask "Why?". 

Parents, just like me, who will have regrets.  Maybe one of them missed eating lunch the day before because they were too busy.  Maybe one of them was too tired to read "one more book" the night before.  Maybe one of them had a late dinner or holiday party and missed the bedtime routine.  Maybe one of them had an argument at breakfast.  Maybe one of them forgot to kiss and hug their sweet child as they got out of the car because they were on their stupid iphone.

Maybe one of them was so distracted on the ride to school that for the life of them they cannot remember the last words their child said to them...they can't remember the last words they said to their child.

Parents who will want to know that their child knew:
I pray for these families.  I pray for my own children.  I read Stormie during this storm.

Empty chairs.

This tragedy has made me pause.  It's made me reflect on my day to day.  Am I living with no regrets?  Am I being intentional about every moment?  Do I deliberately Choose to Love?  Do I talk to God enough?  Do I pray that He will be involved in every facet of my life, every moment of my day?
We are only given one life and every day is a gift. 

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

May God bless the families of Newtown with peace this Christmas.  After all, its no secret that kids LOVE a party and this Christmas I know one classroom of sweet, sweet children that is will be attending one HECK of a birthday party.
Through my tears, that makes me smile.