Remembering Sandy Hook: Mourning And Moving Forward

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Last month, while Kim Kardashian’s ass blew up the internet, a truly amazing story flew mostly under the radar. On November 5th, little Matthew Bennett was born to proud parents Francine and David Wheeler. While babies are born every day, this was especially heartwarming news. The Wheelers lost their son Benjamin in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012. It is a day most of us will not soon forget. During that catastrophe, 26 innocent lives were taken from the school. Six were adults and twenty were children. Such a tragedy seemed unreal. The residents of the tight knit community of Newtown, Connecticut were left shattered. As a parent, to lose a child is heart wrenching enough to begin with. However, to lose a child in such a horrific and senseless manner was unfathomable.

As a country, we mourned together. We were devastated, but we were also angry. How could this have happened in what was supposed to be such a safe environment? These were all regular people looking forward to the holidays together. And now, inexplicably, they were gone. As the days passed, we would learn that the lone shooter, Adam Lanza, had access to a variety of firearms. With that information, many of us demanded answers.

The Wheelers and I have a bit in common. I lost a child as well. Our situation was different, of course. We had known prior to Liam’s birth that he was sick. As a fellow mom, I couldn’t imagine the pain of losing a child so tragically and inexplicably. There really are no words to describe it. The sadness is never-ending. Life goes on, but for those suffering, nothing remains the same. Having a child after loss is bittersweet to say the least. A new child will never be a replacement, but it is a wonderful reason to provide a grieving family with very much needed happiness. However, even with all the newfound smiles, we will never forget about the child we lost.

In learning about Francine Wheeler over the past month, I have come to find out that she is one phenomenal person. She is currently the first and only person besides President Obama and Vice President Biden to deliver Obama’s weekly Saturday address. With her own words, she made a plea for action to combat gun violence. For Francine, it was very personal. However, she is among those that have helped us realize that it is personal for us as well.  As hardened individuals, we often distance ourselves from the harsh reality of life. This situation was different. It touched all of us. We quickly realized that what once was someone else’s tragedy could one day be our own. That was the horrendous reality in which we were facing. Newtown affected all of us. In our grief, we wanted to make sure that it would never happen again.

Many of us have decided to take our own actions. One of the most widely known movements is called “Moms Demand Action.” Although initially started as a grassroots organization, they have managed to gain national attention. “Moms Demand Action” are people just like you and me. They are mothers, wives, aunts, sisters and friends. They are encouraging other families to do the crucial work that they are doing; to mobilize others to advocate for stronger gun laws.

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