I’m still struggling to put my head around the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. I was certainly not ready to post anything Friday, nor was I ready through the weekend, but sometimes silence is appropriate.
Many people took the time to write, talk, share, cry with the rest of the nation and though all I could muster was silence, I was so happy to see that outward emotion reach across and form a unity.
After a full day filled with prayers, I sat in my car, still holding back, listening to a radio station as they read emails from listeners and let callers talk in-between the music. They gave a medium in which people could come together, grieve for and with each other. Further, they cancelled all prizes and contests out of respect. I drove home listening to prayers lifting.
Over the weekend, with everyone’s hearts still in their stomachs, I read a news story about Dunblane, a Scottish city with a similarly tragic event clouding their past. The community came forward, offering condolences and words of strength echoing from their own tragedy.
Again, listening to the radio, (a different station this time, Mix 94.1, Mark and Mercedes in the Morning) they began discussing the acts of heroism within the tragedy; how a neighbor helped the children who had already come out of the school terrified, how teachers hid their students in closets and cabinets, saving lives. The dj’s then asked their listeners to do something nice for someone else -to “pay it forward.” They requested that people call in and share either the kindness they bestowed on someone, or a kindness received.
Calls flooded in. People began paying for the car behind them in the drive-thru, a lady drove home a tv for another lady who couldn’t fit it in her car, people helped out the person in front of them in line when they were short on change. Every person claimed that the kindness made them feel so much better. When someone paid a kindness, they said how the response, the appreciation, the surrounding people who nodded on, all of it made them happier. And when someone received a kindness, their surprise and appreciation made them happier too.
I think, when our hearts are broken by tragedies, when nothing can be said or done, there are people whose words matter, people who share our hardships, and there are actions that can make a community come together to begin the mend.
Whether offering a medium to let people share, offering strength in understanding, sparing change or just time, every kindness forms a moment of happiness, for everyone involved, in which to grow.
I have decided to pay it forward and I really encourage all of you, anyone who reads this, do so as well.
Let’s not be defined by our tragedies, but the unity in which we emerge from them.