Last week, I received a frantic phone call from Robbie's brother, James, who was looking for his wife, Natalie. James and Natalie moved to Connecticut two months after our family did and have been our solid rock this last year after we lost Emilie. Natalie works a couple of blocks from their home in Danbury and had not returned home that night. Robbie and I looked at each other with panic, knowing that something was really wrong.
After James called 911, we learned that Natalie had been hit by a car while walking home from work and was in surgery at the hospital. As we sat there with James, hearing the doctors explain the extent of her serious injuries, we knew she was truly lucky to be alive. Natalie's head had been badly injured and the bleeding in her brain could have easily killed her. For days, we sat in her hospital room... waiting. Waiting to see any signs that could give us hope that Natalie would be able to recover.
The ICU doctor came to check on her one afternoon and began talking to her and irritating her to see if she would react. Natalie, only able to open one eye at the time, reached up and grabbed the doctor's hand and angrily shoved it away. Again and again, each time he tried to touch her, SLAP! she would hit him away. James, seeing his wife for the first time somewhat awake, walked up to her side and sweetly said her name. The irritated Natalie immediately turned her head towards James, smiled and reached her hands out towards him, needing her loving husband's hands.
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I have reflected a lot about what it means to me. It has been one year since I saw my sweet little Emilie. I will be honest, I hate when the media comes into town. I don't like seeing their vans with large satellite dishes parked on every corner. I don't like reporters bothering me to comment or give interviews about the "latest" findings with the case. I don't like seeing my daughter's picture on the news associated with her violent death. And I really don't like talking about the anniversary of the shooting.
I choose to turn it all off.
I choose to reflect on what I have learned about myself and my journey through grief.
I choose to quietly remember the sweet loved ones that were lost that day.
I choose to spend this sacred time with my family.
And I choose to be at peace.
As I sit here in Natalie's hospital room, quietly observing James lovingly talk with his sweet wife, my heart is filled with so much love. This year has taught me so much about not taking loved ones for granted.
Love, it is so simple and yet so powerful. Love connects us all with each other. Love is what forever connects Emilie to my heart. God has shown me how beautiful life truly is when you learn to forgive and feel true peace. It has not been an easy journey, but I have learned so much about being patient with myself. I don't have to hold on to anger and I don't have to hold on to pain. There have been times where I felt like I HAD to hold on to the dark things, like it was some responsibility I was supposed to carry. But Emilie's life was about color and joy, not about pain and suffering. Natalie has taught me to roll away from the things that irritate me and to reach out and hold the hand of my baby and smile instead.