Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chasing Rainbows...and Promises too!

Call me naive. Or...better yet, Pollyanna. But, I'm gonna keep on plugging for rainbows, for My Little Pony, for the Easter Bunny and even for good old St. Nick. And I'm even going to go on promoting the Jolly Green Giant and any other fantasy that has the American child at its heart. I've taken the Sandy Hook Promise. I've promised myself, I will welcome all people and their views, into my life. I will not be deterred.

Chasing Rainbows? You bet. And I think the rest of the world should take it up like it's a full-time sport. If you haven't seen our little starry-eyed Newtown singers, you need to! They are the promise of today, tomorrow, next week and all the years to come. They are the answer to all that's transpired in our sweet little town. They will be our future, and their eyes are focused on us.

Sandy Hook School was the place where I cut my first tooth in the teaching field...well, in reality, I did that a few years before in Bridgeport, CT, teaching hearing impaired kids. At that time, there was a horrible assault on a little sandwich place I frequented, a mob killing, they said. When I was in college, there was an armed robbery in a Subway sandwich shop...the gunman came in just as I made my way out. At the time, I blocked that out completely, and just moved on with my life. After all, this was Bridgeport. And everyone knew crime was a factor there. Horrible. I was twentyish, invincible, or so I thought. I put it outside myself and kept it there. That was how I dealt with my fears.

When I moved to Newtown, CT, I was literally chasing a rainbow. At the time, I had two kids, a dog, and a husband, trying hard to make it in his career. I had a third child and, like many, needed to re-enter the workforce to make ends meet. I was lucky enough to be hired in Newtown, and eventually find my way to that cream-puff school, tucked into a little nook in Sandy Hook. I loved every minute of my time there and so did my three kids!

I loved the parents who were also struggling, two breadwinners to make ends meet. We had the Jolly Green Giant Fair, an annual event with quilts and cake walks and a real giant that kids waited to meet much like they'd waited for Santa! Green footprints were painted along the drive, and as the bus pulled in, little eyes widened anticipating the Giant's arrival in Spring. Kids were thriving...there were cub scouts and brownies, sock hops and potlucks. Life was centered around our kids. And so it's been all these years.

After the recent events, the horror that was inflicted upon our little school...and more importantly the little kids and the wonderful adults who served them, the outpouring of love and good wishes, of luminaries and teddy bears, of crayons and chocolate kisses, the letters and cards...and the prayers, hope began to dig its way back into the heart of our community of Newtown. Intentions and ideals have begun to re-emerge. The Newtown Memorial Fund and the Sandy Hook Promise sprang forth to help our town rebuild. Therapy dogs and a torrent of social workers, counselors and school psychologists have populated our schools. And people here have begun to make a choice about how they will remember and honor those who died, and how they will begin to heal and rebuild their lives.

What is happening here is nothing short of a miracle. I'm not kidding. Like never before, the creative genius of a town is jumping on board. People are coming up with visions for that future. They're setting aside their own political beliefs, their need to be heard, their deep-rooted opinions, and they are opening their minds to what will be best for our kids. You see, here in Newtown, we're repainting our rainbows, and we're setting our sights on love. If nothing else happens here, we'll still know...that our kids watched us and saw that our hope could re-emerge and we could love one another in a way that would transcend this brutal mutilation...because even though the unthinkable happened, we will honor them always through our actions, not our words. And now, all we want for our kids is for them to know love, to hope and to regain that ability to feel safe, a day at a time, like never before.

And now? We need to transcend Newtown...and embrace all our children. Saftety is not a privilege, it is their right. We need to begin again all over, chasing rainbows in Chicago, in Bridgeport, in Los Angeles, in Boston and New York and Dallas, Texas too. Childhood is that one place where human joy and hope is born. Let our babies keep their fantasies. All kids everywhere are entitled to their wonder years.

~~In rememberance of my dear friend Anne...whose courage I never doubted for a minute! Not a day goes by...that I don't think of her and of them all, of the parents and the siblings, the neighbors and friends. Love is all I know, and that is how I choose to live my life for them.