Thirdeyemom

27 Acts of Kindness

“Weeping is not the same thing as crying, It takes your whole body to weep, and when it`s over, you feel like you don`t have any bones left to hold you up.” 
― Sarah Ockler, Twenty Boy Summer

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Remember the victims and their shining smiles. 26 are pictured above. Yet there are 27 victims of the massacre if you include the killer’s mother who was shot before he entered the school. Photo credit: Time Magazine

Like most people around the world I was mortified and heartbroken by the horrific events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in the small, close-knit community of Newtown, Connecticut. As a mother of two children ages 6 and 8, the unimaginable tragedy struck even closer to my heart and soul and made me think in ways I didn’t want to. How on earth a young lost soul could do the most horrific thing imaginable is beyond any reasonable thinking. I have thought about it for a long time and still the pain and fear remain and the questions unanswered. Perhaps we will never know.

Over a month ago, the Global Team of 200, a group of exceptional women bloggers who I am honored to be a part of, decided to act upon this tragedy and ensure that these 27 victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy were not simply forgotten. Catching on to the “26 Random Act of Kindness” theme that started from lovely Ann Curry and went viral, we wanted to take it a step further as a group and write a post honoring each of the 27 (not 26 as there were 27 victims of this tragedy) people who lost their lives that day.

I felt uneasy writing something about a person I never knew. I also accepted that there was no way possible I could emotionally write about a child the same age as mine. Thus, perhaps I took the easier way out by selecting Mary Sherlach, age 56, the school pychologist.

Not true. I realized that there was no easy way to write this post. 

When I pulled up the Time article honoring the victims lives, and saw the beauty and promise in their smiling faces, it became all too real again. The raw pain, shock, horror, rage and anger remain within me and I still find it hard to accept and forgive. My heart goes out to all the families who lost the most precious things in their lives: Their glowing rays of light, hope and promise. Their love. Their children. My heart also goes out to the families who lost the brave adults who fought to protect the children they taught and cared for at the school.

Tragedies like these burn at the soul and make us wonder about the morality and mindset of the human spirit.

I look at this picture of Mary below and the short description documenting the last 56 years of her life. I feel saddened that she didn’t have time to see her grandchildren grow and live to the grow old with her husband. Her life along with 26 others were stolen by one lost soul. How do we forgive? How do we forget? Is it ever possible? I do not know.

Connecticut School Shooting

Photo credit: MARK SHERLACH/AP. Mary Sherlach had been employed at Sandy Hook Elementary since 1994. She and her husband of 31 years have two adult daughters. Sherlach’s neighbor Cathy Lucas described her as a “lovely, lovely woman.” Sherlach formerly worked as a school psychologist in Redding, North Haven and New Haven, Conn., public schools. Her hobbies included gardening, theater and reading.

Mary, I sincerely wish I could do you justice in this post. I never knew you, I never will, but you will not be forgotten and our hearts go out to your family in hope for a better day.

To read more about the victims of the Newton tragedy and their lives that were cut way too short, click here. 

To read the most recent post on 27 Acts of Kindness and see a list of all the posts our team have written this month, click here. 

16 comments

  1. What a beautiful idea, to honor these 27 people. It is a loss to all of us, even if we did not know them personally. It’s hard to write about because we simply don’t have a vocabulary for tragedy like this. It makes me think about the poem, “One Today,” that Richard Blanco read recently at the Presdential Inauguration. I nodded when he spoke of: “the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever.”

    • Oh, thanks Lisa. I can’t do it justice. I was in Sophia’s kindergarten class today volunteering after I wrote this and looked at the kids. Still babies with so much hope, promise and future ahead of them. It pulls on the heart, that is for sure.

      • yes, they have such innocence and look to us for protection — or because of our protection, they have innocence.. and then, in those extreme cases,the script goes horribly wrong. unfortunately, we cannot see into the future, and we feel so helpless at times. we do our best with each day.

  2. As a balanced and open hearted tribute to Mary Sherlach, just one of the 27 to die that day, this is a simple, yet fine and moving piece. Despite being the other side of an ocean from the events they have been in our news and thoughts here in the UK, a reminder of previous tragedies both in the USA and in the UK too.

    Although we haven’t had a school shooting incident since Dunblane in 1997, we had one major public shooting incident in rural Cumbria, in 2010. 13 people including the shooter died. That act was carried out with licensed guns, legally owned by the man who seems to have suffered serious mental breakdown, just prior to the shooting. These incidents always cause trauma and questions about how society responds to them, but I believe that some people do not want to deal with all the issues that lead to these sort of incidents. The most regular exclusions from discussion are the recognition that the perpetrator was a victim of a kind too and that use of prescription medication for the treatment of a psychotic condition, by the perpetrator, is so often the case just prior to these incidents.

    The project that your tribute is a part of has taken a big step in the right direction by acknowledging that there were 27 victims not just 26! For that I have great respect. A father lost his son and his former wife, of many years, in this tragedy too, and a young troubled man died needlessly with issues unresolved by those who should have helped him. If the reasons that the young man at the heart of this incident really did what he did are properly examined then, and only then, can real progress be made to begin addressing how these sort of incidents can be minimised. I wish you and the other bloggers success in awakening many hearts and minds to the whole picture and that real change may be the result.

    • Thanks for such a well thought out comment that truly examines the issue! Yes, there is so much that needs to be done in the world. So much needs to be fixed and it is so complex. Mental illness is a real and growing problem. I only hope that we can make some changes to address not only gun control, but the deeper societal issues and mental conditions that are contributing to this sea of lost souls who also need help.

  3. What an inspiring gesture! What a moving piece. I do hope that some of the proposed legislative changes for gun control come into fruition in America. Change is long overdue. Agree, you can’t ignore the issue of mental illness as a factor in these types of incidents. The enormity of the problem is so overwhelming, we sit back and wonder what can we do, how do we fix it? Sometimes, it’s simple measures – start with yourself. As per Michael Jackson’s song ‘Man in the Mirror’:

    I’m starting with the man in the mirror,
    I’m asking him to change his ways,
    And no message could have been any clearer,
    If you wanna make the world a better place,
    Take a look at yourself and then make a change,
    You gotta get it right, while you got the time,
    ‘Cause when you close your heart,
    (You can’t close your, your mind),
    Then you close your mind….

    • Thanks so much for the comment! Yes, people also need and want to change, especially in the case when you need help. I don’t understand why people don’t seek it. I went through severe postpartum depression eight years ago after the birth of my son and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. But I knew something wasn’t right and did what ever I could to get help. Thankfully my husband and mother were there to help me get help. That is an important thing too, that people who need help aren’t all alone and have someone helping them too.

  4. What an incredible tribute to 27 innocent victims. I am awed by the power of the blogging world, especially the Global Team of 200. Can anyone become a member of this team? I went to their website and the mission statement blends with my goals of working with children in the field of education in Nicaragua.

    • Thanks so much! I joined the GT200 last fall as I was invited by the founding member Jennifer James who I met at BlogHer last year and she is an amazing woman. She first founded Mom Bloggers for Social Good which I joined first. Jennifer said that if you are interested, then you can join Mom Bloggers for Social Good first and then as GT200 expands she will send out another invitation to active members of MBFSG. Does that make sense? As part of this team, it is a year long commitment and we are obligated to write two posts a month on social good that partners with the group and sends us information for the post. Let me know what you think. It is really a cool thing.

    • Yes and the NRA thinks it is ok and their right to have these kind of crazy guns available. I know changing the law and banning these guns won’t solve the problem. Violence goes so much further than that and is engrained in our society. But I still think it would help a little.

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