The tragedy of the fallen innocents in the recent Connecticut school shooting is difficult to come to grips with. It’s rough terrain for parents, teachers and friends. It’s especially rough for those who have experienced the loss of a child. I have this unenviable distinction, having lost a son some 14 years ago. If you want to know what love is, have a child. If you want to know what pain is, bury him.
For parents who have experienced the death of a child there is no more devastating loss. What makes this particularly challenging is that the death of a child is a contradiction to everything that we believe to be true about life; a child’s death disrupts the normal order of life. Parents are supposed to die before their children. When a child dies, many feel as though they have lost their future. We somehow gather the courage to go on – broken hearts still beat.
At times like these, the world turns its teary eyes skyward and wonders why. There are so many questions, and there are so few answers. We mourn those whose lives were cut short, but we must look for those opportunities to celebrate the joys and legacies they left behind. Each new life, no matter how fragile or brief, forever changes the world. People come into and go out of our physical lives for a reason. They give us important life lessons and we are all the richer for the experiences. We owe it to those departed to pay forward the gifts they bestowed upon us. By doing this, we commemorate their lives and begin to help others heal.
Given their early years and their formative educational beginnings, it seems fitting to honor their memory through the gift of books. They have the power to expand imaginations, deepen knowledge, build character and teach tolerance. Books are the best and most effective defense against hate. Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders. There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.
Consider giving the gift of books to commemorate the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Donate to your local school library. Invite your children to read regularly for leisure. Teach someone how to read. A respect for books translates into a respect for self and others. Donating books and nurturing young minds keeps the memories of the fallen alive and commemorates the valuable life lesson they have given us. Knowledge is the path to enlightenment.
Life is not about the number of breaths we take. Rather, it’s about the number of things that leave us breathless. Open a child’s mind to books and let their imagination and sense of wonder chart their course to a better world. Donate or endow a book to your local school library today in loving memory of fallen children and let the healing begin.