Monday, December 17, 2012

Restoration

This past weekend has held a lot of tears. We’ve seen them on TV, we’ve shed them in our home, we’ve shared them with so many across this country. I’ve memorized the faces of those lost, and I’ve envisioned they were my babies, forcing myself to imagine the tiniest fraction of these parents’ pain as if it carries a bit of their burden, as if it relieves their suffering. It doesn’t.

I returned to one of my latest reads this weekend, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, dog-eared and highlighted in many places, one specifically related to this kind of tragedy and the vulnerability that arises from it. Brown refers to her research of families who have lost children and experienced unspeakable traumas in life and what she learned from them: “Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger.” (from Daring Greatly, Gotham Books, 2012)

We all are feeling raw, exposed, hurt and confused because yes, this could happen to any one of us. Enjoying moments with our families this past weekend may have felt awkward, not right, not fair.  We all feel broken for the families who have experienced this tragedy. But we are not desperate. Fear will not win. Hate will never prevail.

I attended a child’s funeral this year—a heart-wrenching experience to say the least. I’ll never forget her daddy’s words as he stood, voice trembling, from the podium and asked one thing of friends and family: “Please don’t speak about her in past tense. Please don’t put her on a shelf as someone who was. She IS and always will be.”

The twenty children who died and the teachers and school workers who sacrificed their lives to save them ARE. They exist, in the present and in the future, their stories preserved, retold and cherished by all that love them. They stand as a constant reminder to all of us that the world needs more compassion, more love, more reaching in, more stretching out, more thought, more connection, more community.

Friends in New York talk about the aftermath of 9-11. How in the days that followed the tragedy, the city was drenched in love—people stopping in the streets to hug, eyes connecting, smiles reassuring, and thousands of kindness acts expressed because people needed each other. The callouses of routines and jobs and things and money had been removed and what lay raw and exposed was vulnerability—the need we all share to love and be loved. New York might never be the same after that day, but eventually people returned to old habits. In a hurry, consumed, unaware—scabs that cover what hurts to be exposed.

In grieving for these families this week, there is a sense of community and compassion that is present. We’re asking questions about how to make the world better, and we are joining together in our quest for answers. In our pursuit to restore, we are listening and reaching out.  This weekend, I joined with both friends from out of town and friends from our village.  We talked a lot about Connecticut, and we talked about ordinary things too.  There were tears, but there was also laughter.  There was a sunset.  There was a storm.  There was a rainbow.

Isle of Capri, Saturday
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The family e-mail chain has awakened with lively discussions, quiet friends have emerged through texts and calls, and neighbors have hugged in the streets.  These open arms feel the most comfortable place to be in a world that seems scary right now.

The only thing I know to do is to fall more into love—to draw close to things that are good, the people and places and experiences that draw the best from me. To honor the children and teachers that are lost, I pay attention to the children and teachers, friends and strangers who have not been lost.

There are questions to be answered, issues to be discussed, concerns to be addressed.  Yes, we can do more.  But we will always be vunerable.  We are always at risk of losing what we love.  And the only way to soften that pain is to keep loving.

From "A Brief for the Defense" by Jack Gilbert:

"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come."

(From Refusing Heaven, Knopf 2005)
The poem in its entirety is worth the read. 

I've never liked the phrase "moving on" after tragedy.  We don't move on.  We move forward, taking memories, precious faces and stories, and the things we're learning with us.  As we move forward into the holidays this week, let us have the stubbornness to accept and hear the music among "the ruthless furnace of this world."  Let us find ways to offer compassion and the humility to receive it.

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Again, I am thankful for this community here.  How we all are listening and sharing our stories.  How we are learning.

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This made me smile today.  Restoration, friends.  xo

58 comments:

Life with Kaishon said...

Community. Do vital. Thankful you are a part if so many.

The Scott's said...

Thank you for this... :)

Tela said...

moving forward. what a beautiful way to put it. moving on isn't possible, and i feel it diminishes what was.

Mom Fashion World said...

It's always nice to read your post.
I love it and your adorable girls!

http://www.momfashionworld.com/

Stacey said...

So well put. Thank you.

YeamieWaffles said...

These photos are wonderful Kelle as is the intent, great post.

dynajenn said...

“Don’t be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your little candle and step forward.” -Amma-

Thanks for the lovely post.

Katy said...

Beautiful points, thank you. I just bought Daring Greatly as a Christmas present for my Mum.

Raelyn said...

Kelle....
One word. Wow. I will be thinking about this Blog post for weeks.... ;)
Friday's tragedy has attempted to make me feel double vulnerable, because just three days before, there was another shooting. On the other side of America. It was less eventful, thank God, yet just as tragic....
--Raelyn

Stephanie said...

THANK YOU so much for actually writing about the tragedy! I've been disappointed that most of my favorite blogs haven't. It doesn't seem right. Especially of a mom blog. I appreciate so much that you put yourself out there with your feelings -knowing that some people won't take it as you meant it. Knowing also that you said your piece. Thank you for talking about love. I pray that from this we all learn to love a little more. To love our families, and to show our kids to love EVERYONE. I can't help to wonder if so many homicides would happen if the killers felt loved and not outcast. If their life was loved and appreciated I think they'd love and appreciate life a lot more. I hope to carry this lesson with me in parenthood and life forever. <3

Marianne said...

Thank you for your words.

In the vein of moving forward, I wanted to let you know something, something that you may not see because you look at her every day. But in the last few entries? I have been struck by how much *bigger* Nella seems. She, to me, has lost that look of baby/toddler and have moved into that look of little girl. It amazes me, and makes me thankful for the privelege you have given me of watching her grow. Thank you for that.

Marianne

Alisha said...

These are really amazing words. You have captured everything I was feeling and more. This is possibly the most heartfelt thing I've read all week.

I hope the town of Newtown knows how much the whole world is thinking of them. I am from tiny little New Zealand on the bottom of the world and we have been speaking of their pain all week. Much love xx

christine said...

Thank you for expressing perfectly what I haven't been able to put into words. Moving forward. So well put.

karla said...

Thank you. Your words provided much needed perspective.

Jamie said...

As a mother whose son died last year, thank you for saying that we don't move on. I wouldn't begin to compare my loss with those from CT, but it is true. We learn how to move forward bringing our children with us. It becomes our "job", to keep their memory alive

Lora said...

I've been wanting to tell you for a while how incredibly inspiring I find you. I anxiously wait every day for a new post and then save it, like a little present, and read it last because I know that no matter the subject it will be great. I have read your book and have given it as a gift. Thank you for all that you do for all of us.

Maria said...

Beautiful, Kelle. I felt so grateful to be with my 5 & 6 year old nephews this weekend yet so sad at the same time. Those babies lost were never far from our minds. Yet we loved. There was nothing else we could do in honour of those babies. It's hard.
P.S. Your picture of the boys & girls is stunning. The boys look so handsome with their haircuts, Lainey~precious. And Nella..her smile! Oh, how I love that baby!

Alexis Koch said...

I found your blog recently at a time when I truly needed it. My son was born nine months ago with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disorder that can slowly ruin his vital organs. I have a solid group of friends but no one else has experienced the heartbreak of a shocking diagnosis at the beginning of their child's life. Connecting with you through your blog reminds me to rise up and express the unbelievable love that is growing within me each day as I mother my beautiful boy. When I read your words, I feel my soul creativity and the gifts I have to give this world yearning to be expressed. This recent tragedy hits me at each of my vulnerable places. The thought of losing the little one that I am just getting the sweet chance to love halts me. Thanks for expressing many of my emotions and for rising up in love.

cathy said...

thank you

xoxo
cathy

Ryan and Julene Stoianowski said...

So, I love your blog. I love you, your creative life, your love of life, and your positive attitude always. I too have a special needs daughter and relate so much to so many things you speak of. I only wish I was so good with words as you are. But, you can take this as you will, when you referred to the precious children as still existing, you don't know me from Adam and you can definitely disregard this but I KNOW with everything I have that those children still do exist. Their spirits existed before this world began and they now exist with Christ and our Heavenly Father today. All those parents WILL be with their precious children again. You are amazing, just wanted to clarify my testimony, expounding on what you said:-)

Pamela Jean said...

Love :-)

SallyGirl said...

This post was sweet, and the link at the end really made my day!

Kathy said...

I feel so much better after having read your post and this one: http://www.orangeparents.org/three-minutes/

I tend to be a negative thinker and I very much related to what you said about being afraid to feel joy. I have noticed how it is really wearing on me now and I definitely feel weary from it all. Thank you so much for sharing that wisdom.

Miggy said...

Dammit Kelle! Try as I might, I'm no Kelle Hampton (not that I'm trying to be...well maybe like once or twice).

That was perfect.

Keep loving, don't diminish the joy...how could I not see it before? I admit to sometimes letting fear get the best of me. I'm a huge scardy cat...but this. makes. sense. Rings true. Is right.

I do grieve and will continue to grieve for those families... but I can also have joy and love and give it even more freely than before. So, so right.

Dammit...

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said...

I loved Brene's book and reviewed it on my blog as well.

http://windywilsons.blogspot.com/2012/09/book-review-daring-greatly.html

What a wonderful post. I love where you mentioned what the family said about the child whose funeral you attended said. Don't speak about them in past tense. They ARE.

And honestly, as a parent who lost a child to stillbirth at full term, I find it so important that the name of my son is spoken. Now, in a year, in 10 years. It means he matters to others and is not forgotten. Let us not forget and speak their names.

Andria said...

This is very beautiful. You are a gifted writer.

But because you have such a following, and are so influential....I would love to see you challenge people to action. Now is the time to stand up. To speak out against the insanity that is gun violence in America. I'd love to see a wave of moms come forward and say, We've had enough of our rights being infringed upon -- our children made unsafe -- because of someone else's so-called right to own a semi-automatic weapon of mass destruction. These poor children were killed within minutes because it is legal for Americans to own such things. You have clout, Kelle -- if you believe in this issue, and said something, people would listen.

Sara said...

such a beautiful and heart-wrenching post. thank you, kelle.

J said...

So beautifully written. Really great post & sums up what I am sure many of us are feeling this week. Thank you.

Ky said...

Even on the other side of the world in Australia, we will never forget those babies and those brave teachers.
Satan is going to burn for a very, very, very long time for all the evil he puts in mans hearts and minds.
Thank you for the last link you put up in this post, Kelle. I loved it! I cryed, but I loved it.

Monique Pearce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monique said...

Kelle,
So beautifully written. YES we as a community of people need to LOVE more, SUPPORT more, CONNECT more and to show more COMPASSION on so many levels. I so agree with you when you say "the only way to soften that pain is to keep loving" and that "moving forward" will keep those we have lost in our present day and into the future with us. The entire world needs to read this post, understand the depth your message and hope and pray for the change we will need to keep this darkness from happening again and again. Thank you for your thoughts.
Monique

Emily said...

Thank you for this Kelle. It was exactly what I needed to read right now. Your words touched me perfectly and I hope you realize just how many people you've probably uplifted with this post. God bless.

pasita said...

Non capisco proprio tutto quello che leggo, ma ne capisco il senso. Queste tragedie appartengono al mondo e non soglia chi ha la sfortuna di viverle in prima persona. Questo natale dovrà essere ancora più speciale, nel ricordo dei bambini e di chi li ha difesi con la vita. Grazie per ciò che scrivi.sempre. Pat

Farmgirl Paints said...

Love you girl.

Cindy said...

Kelle, Thank you for this post. and for the "This" that made me smile too. I am from NY - I was there living through 9/11. My family and friends are on Long Island where Hurricane Sandy just blasted through. I live in CT; my sister lives right next to Newtown and that could have easily been my little nephew. As much as it could have been any of our precious littles. This tragedy, in particular, is so heinous and unbelievable and yet, we continue to come together to support and help and love each other. To put ourselves out there for each other. To refuse to live in fear, to continue to trust that we will be more than okay - that we will have joy. People all over have proven that People ARE Good.

6512 and growing said...

thank you for the joy you spread.

Kate Sama said...

Thank you for sharing that poem. It is absolutely beautiful and inspiring.

LEW said...

thank you for this. I am a Virginia Tech alumni, and I know that I am still shocked each and every time our incident is mentioned, or I think about it. The tragedy in Connecticut hit me the same exact way. I know it will take some time for that community to move forward. Blacksburg and Virginia Tech are still in the healing process but it would not be what it is today without the outpouring of love and prayers recieved from around the world. Newtown and Sandy Hook are receiving the same. I know that Newtown will prevail.

The Virginia Tech 32 are walking hand in hand with the 26 who lost their lives at Sandy Hook.

Sandy Hook WILL Prevail.

nicolette gawthrop said...

<3

Brady said...

I read this yesterday and keep coming back to the idea that constantly preparing for the worst does us no good - that it diminishes our resilience. Enjoying the moment - kind of storing up our joy - is the only way to live. This is a beautiful post, Kelle.

Et tu, tutu? said...

This was beautiful.

-Lindsey

Little for a Little While said...

This is beautiful Kelle. Thank you for putting into words that which so many of us cannot. Hugs.

Jan said...

Thank you, Kelle. That actually helped calm me a great deal.

Andrea said...

I've been a new reader of yours and have enjoyed the perspective you offer and the thoughtfulness with which you craft your message. I actually came to your blog today hoping to find words to heal by and meaningful prose to try and comfort an aching heart. I found just that. I think we are all aching right now and it's wonderful to read such a postive, insightful message, one that doesn't preach but instead offers light in a time where we all feel so shrouded in the darkness of this tragedy. Thank you thank you thank you.

17enne said...

That's one thing I admire of you americans. Keep on being such a community, you are an example even if you're not the perfect ones or the only ones; but you still are, and we have to learn.

I can't stop thinking that America is a good place after all.

The usual teenager girl from a cold and snowy Italy.

SH said...

Thank you for this post. Many bloggers have been writing about this tragedy, but you really have captured the essence of sadness, and I love what you wrote about moving forward, and speaking about the children in the present tense. You have a way with words!
thehartungs.blogspot.ca

esther said...

Hi Kelle

I have been following your blog for awhile and have re-read again from the beginning.Your words have touches me in many ways and I am very glad that I found your blog and is very inspired by you.
And your girls, they are amazingly beautiful.
Thank you for writing.

Lynn Richards said...

All I could think of today after seeing the photo of the funeral for 6 yr. old Jack was, "How in Heaven's name are we supposed to celebrate Christmas?"
Well, we do. and we will. For our children. Your post today moved me so much. I will open gifts with my girls and make sure I watch their faces more than usual. I will think of the mammas that don't get to see their little one's eyes this year on Christmas morning and pray. And then I will look at my girls again and enjoy each and every moment.
xo
lynn
p.s. thanks for the link to what made you smile. perfect.

Cathy K. said...

I'm still having a hard time writing down how I feel. It's just so hard to explain. Thank you for posting this.

Nancy Russo said...

Hi Kelle - I have read your blog religiously since I first discovered it. I call you my friend to my husband - Quiet, I am trying to read Kelle's latest entry. I know you are suffering like the rest of us from the recent tragedy. I live in Stratford, CT with my husband and our 2 year old twins. Today, Victoria Soto will be buried in our town. I am sharing this video with you in hopes that you can share it so everyone will know what a brave young lady she was. I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season. Thank you for taking the time to share your life with us.

http://youtu.be/peLqWOXlRfQ

Molly said...

Yay! You linked to the Poetry Center at Smith College- that's my alma mater. That Jack Gilbert poem is wonderful! It is hard to remember that our own good lives do not negate the concern we have for the suffering of others; in fact, nurturing ourselves is the best way to make ourselves available to meet the needs of others.

Bethany OConnor said...

Beautiful, Kelle. Leaning into love over here, too. In that way, we all lean towards each other, I guess. xoxox

The onion Farmers Wife said...

Thank you Kelle for the top 26! MAde my day and inspired me. xoxox

Averyl Minori said...

Thank you....my heart still hurts but I am moving forward too. I like the way you phrased that....not moving on, but forward.

Erin said...

Thank you for posting these words. In times of despair it's comfort to remember that God wants us to be happy.

Erin said...

Thank you for posting these words. In times of despair it's comfort to remember that God wants us to be happy.

Amy Lovseth said...

Like you, I'm a former teacher and now a mom at home with my two girls. It hit me hard and I'm still grieving with those families and all involved. I feel like I've heard and read so much about this tragedy, but your words were the first words that brought some sort of comfort and some sort of hope to this darkness I've been feeling. What a gift. Thank you so much.

Win said...

A week later and I still have butterflies in my stomach. I tryyyyy to act normal, but it is forced. My 3 year old daughter and 5 year old son are still blissfully unaware of what happened, thankfully. Those sweet faces, and I am so bowled over by the bravery and instinct of the adults that lost their lives. My heart hurts for the parents. I will keep those precious babies in my heart for the rest of my life. Yes, those 20 beautiful babies, they ARE. Thank you Kelle, for giving me a place to share in this.