It is the anniversary-eve of the Sandy Hook tragedy and here I sit, reading in disbelief the news of today’s latest school shooting. I am taken back to the moments one year ago tomorrow, as I grieved with the nation over the insensible loss of innocent children, all-the-while fighting a rather encompassing and most urgent desire to immediately rouse my own babies out of bed that instant, just so I could hold them tight. On that day, I scrolled through my Facebook feed, commiserating with everyone over the difficulty in grasping what had just happened, and noting from numerous shared posts that I was not singular in circumstance of harboring that overwhelming urge to gather up one’s offspring. But it was one friend’s status in particular that I recall struck me the most. In it, she expressed her perplexity over the onslaught of posts on her timeline that were imploring parents to “hug your children tonight.” To her (as she explained) this seemed an odd directive of which to remind someone. Parents shouldn’t need a tragedy to have them go tell their children that they are loved; rather, these are sentiments that should be shared every day.
I get what she was saying. Really, I do. December 14, 2012 was not an isolated day in which my children randomly and unexpectedly heard me express my love. I can’t get enough of smothering them in hugs and kisses, probably verbalizing no less than 92 times a day (and 101 on Sundays) just how much I love them. Without a doubt, they know they are loved. As L will tell you, “My mommy loves me all the time, even when I’m naughty.” But on that date, when the world-over joined Sandy Hook in mourning, my kids did hear it just that much more. And I held and squeezed them just that much longer.
Because, while I don’t need the lives of children devastatingly claimed in order to remind me that I love my own children, these types of events do remind me just how fleeting life can be; that tomorrow is never promised. To slow down, to breathe, and to simply be present for my children is one reminder that I don’t think I can ever get enough of. Before they close their eyes at night, the very moment they arise, and with every waking minute of the day, my children know well indeed (and are told as much) that they are loved. And in that regard, I get the heart of the matter in what my friend was trying to convey in her message.
My children will also know well indeed, that on terrible news days like today and those of Sandy Hook, Mommy will purposefully seek them out to hold them long and tight just one minute more and to tell them for the 102nd time on a Sunday just how much I love them.
Because I can.
And because my heart aches for those parents that now can’t.