I walk home from school after a long but fun school day, a special day. I enter my house, put down my backpack, and the phone rings. We always screen our calls. My mom's friend is crying into the answering machine.
"Oh my God. Turn on the TV. Are you watching this?"
I turn on the TV, and I watch footage of people being dragged out of a largely demolished government building. I am alone in the house, hunched over our 12" TV in the kitchen, crying as I watch a fireman covered in dust carrying a limp body.
It is April 19th, 1995, my twelfth birthday.
In the days that followed, I came to know a sense of helplessness as the body count continued to rise. Maybe because it was my birthday, or maybe just because it was the first big national tragedy I can remember, I so vividly recall the Oklahoma City Bombing as having a big impact on me. I remember Live's Lightning Crashes video getting played over and over again on TV, the radio playing Boyz II Men's Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.
Last Friday I came in to work like any other day. It's sad that when someone asked me if I'd heard about "the school shooting in Connecticut," my initial reaction was to roll my eyes and say "gee whiz, another shooting." Then I turned on NBC's live feed and I felt myself crumbling as more and more information came out and the depth of the tragedy started to hit home. This is the first time something like this has happened since I had my daughter, and I just wasn't prepared for how much harder it would hit me. Anytime anything bad happens to a child, your initial parental reaction is to immediately imagine that it was YOUR child and how would you feel, what would you do. Even thinking about it now is too difficult, I just have to shuffle it away and focus on finishing what I have to say here.
Is there a right way to react to something like this? Social media exploded as you might expect with people sharing sympathies, but arguments erupted over gun control and finger pointing and blame blame blame, always blame in the face of such seemingly senseless tragedies. We cannot accept that there wasn't something we could have done to prevent the loss of those 26 people. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn't, but a new movement was started in the wake of this of people who wanted to DO something, and now.
There is no better time of the year, no better time in this country, to just do something nice for people. People you know, people you don't. So I picked up the gauntlet that was dropped at my feet by the twitterverse, and I am going to go on a 26 Acts adventure of my own. I plan to post them as I go on Instagram, then make a compilation of them when it's done and post it here. I am going to do this for a largely selfish reason: I want to feel good about something. In the wake of all that senseless death, imagining a family looking into a future without their children, I want to feel GOOD about ANYTHING. So I printed out 26 sheets of paper with the names of the Sandy Hook victims, and I'm going to start feeling good today.
I have been truly blessed this year. I have a wonderful family. My husband and I both have good jobs. I want my daughter to be able to look back on this and see that the spirit of the holidays is in giving and sharing. Time to get started.