let it grow

How many of us glance in our sleeping children at night and still think of Newtown? I do. Every single night. I walk over and look down on them, snuggled in sweet innocent sleep, place my hand on their warm rising chests, and kiss them on the forehead. Sometimes when I linger and whisper into Caroline's ear that I love her, she says it back to me in her sleep.

It wasn't just yesterday anymore, but it wasn't that long ago either. I caught wind of the story last week of the parents of one of the victims meeting with the suspect's father and seeing the accompanying photo of them walking arm in arm away from the school that day in December without their baby brought me to tears again. It is still just too much to absorb and definitely way too much to accept.

I wanted to run this weekend in the Sandy Hook Run For the Families .I sat with the registration screen open for days on my phone in January. I couldn't pull the trigger because a run in Danbury, CT meant either leaving my family for at least an entire day on the weekend OR bringing them along and having to face potentially terrible questions. I couldn't do it. Then the race moved to Hartford and knowing that isn't too far from my parents I briefly considered running there too, until I saw that because of the relocation they were now encouraging people to run wherever they were as "virtual" runners. Using my membership in a local organization, I approached the leadership, got myself on a first name basis with the police chief, created, copied, and distributed flyers all over town, approached the school for grounds use and inclusion in the packet of information that goes home with kids each week, and planned a course by running and driving around town looking for routes that could use sidewalks. I had no idea what I was doing. NONE. I did this, myself, with the support of my husband, kids, and family, a friend who helped me post signs with a long forgotten staple gun the morning of, and four wonderful volunteers from the high school.

Approximately 30 people ran with me on Saturday here in town, and about 15 others registered but due sickness, schedules, or the absolutely freezing cold and wind didn't quite make it to the starting line. My sister-in-law Colleen who had planned to walk with my nephew decided it was too cold for him (it really was!) and RAN! She had a baby at the end of January. She ran.

We raised over $800.00 for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund towards a total nationwide of $438,131 that will directly benefit the families of the victims.

It was cold. I hadn't warmed up at all, but my heart was full. Caroline handed out the green ribbons I had pinned together at the start and bottles of water at the finish. I held her image in my mind throughout my run, how she loved to be helpful and she wasn't sure what this was all about, but she wanted to be a part of it. One of her classmates walked with his mother, he told her he wanted to do it and even though she has had knee and hip surgeries, she walked because when your six year old tells you he wants to do something like this you find the strength within yourself. Had it not been so cold, it would have been a beautiful day to run. The sun was shining through the clouds and I kept looking up, remembering the terrible images I have held in my heart for three months, and one foot in front of the other, the run was done and there was Connor racing to me at the finish, Caroline handing me a bottle of water.

When the planning and stress of organizing started to get the best of me, I reminded myself I was running for the Carolines; mine and theirs.

We were a small, but mighty group and if they do this again next year in CT, I am just crazy enough to volunteer again to organize something bigger, with a kid fun run, and real timing devices because it is the very least I can do to remind Newtown that we are still with them and we still remember and we won't forget.

Somewhere along the course, the "Let It Grow" song from the Lorax blasted into my earbuds. The kids love this movie and Caroline sings this song all the time. Sure, The Lorax is about conservation and ecology & the song is about letting a seed grow, but it's a pretty amazing metaphor for anything you think needs changing. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better it's not."

... and what a message to send, 15,000 strong in CT, thousands more nationwide running in unison together. I care. I care a whole awful lot. It has to get better. I feel honored to have been just one tiny seed finding a way to grow the message of love and hope with a prayer for change. It's an uphill climb, but love has to win. There has to be change, for the Carolines, Connors, Lyles, Tenleys, Joeys, Dannys, Ryans, Brookes, Jacquelines, Claras, Owens, Cates, TJs, Samanthas, Amalies, Bens, Ethans, Annas, Zoes, Lillys, Maddies, Teddys, Charlies, Sams, Alessias, Veras, Henrys, Charlottes, Christians, Alexes, Quinns, Gabys, Nates, Nolans, Timmys, Shanes, Declans, Chloes, Teegans, Jamesons, Rylans, Grants, Addisons, Bennets, Abbas, Brendans, Maeves, Laurens, Joshes, Zacks, Rheas, Tommys, Alyssas, Allysons, Leahs, Michaels, Livys, Camerons, Lylas, Mias, Collettes, Claires, Roses, Nickys, Dylans, Amys, Nicoles, and every other beautiful amazing child in my world that I have left off this list. They deserve better. We have to let it grow.


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