As "Sandy Hook Moms," we often hear the phrase "I can't imagine what you are going through." Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it's like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same.
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The gravity of the moment that comes with holding your child for the first time -- looking into their eyes, rocking them to sleep, allowing their breath to fill your heart, marveling at how nature has taken a part of you and a part of your husband to create someone uniquely beautiful -- the seriousness of that moment, is only eclipsed by the moment you discover your little boy or little girl is forever gone, just a few hours after watching them wave back at you from the school bus window.

Mothers are not supposed to outlive their children. It is against the natural order of things. Having endured tragedy of a particularly cruel and violent sort less than five months ago, we continue to live in a state of shock and horror. But through our pain, we are trying to gain some perspective.

In the weeks and months after the December 14th shooting at Newtown, we clung to every picture, video, article of clothing -- the Superman shirt he practically lived in, her favorite flower headband, his proud Cub Scout uniform, the T-shirt he wore when he sang "Mr. Golden Sun" in front of an entire restaurant -- any shred of physical evidence of our children's time on earth. It is a rare minute when their loss isn't ever-present. Our children fill our dreams. We speak to them in the hopes they can hear us in the heavens. We have our own moments of grief and guilt where we question whether or not we treasured every precious second with our sons and daughters.

We see the deep mourning in our husbands' eyes, as they do their best to hold us up. We feel the confusion that interrupts our children's daily routines as they wrestle with the violence that cut short the life of their brother or sister. We feel it in the hearts of an astonishing community and country that has wrapped its arms around us in our time of need. There are days when things seem normal, and then something as trivial as a kitchen appliance breaking sends us sputtering.

We are constantly asked, "How do you go on?" The answer lies in the promise we made to our children when they were born, and perhaps more importantly, the promise we made when they were so senselessly taken from us.

When Dylan, Daniel, Ana and Ben came into this world, each of us, in our own way, promised to prepare them for life as best we could. Every day, approximately 11,000 new American moms will make that same loving promise as they meet their babies for the first time. Within a blink of an eye, these women will become intimately familiar with things like bath time, sunscreen, chocolate chip pancakes, and the healing power of multi-colored band-aids. And with each new moment shared, something magical will happen. These new moms will get to experience life when it is lived for others. They will learn more about themselves than they ever imagined. The sacrifices are immeasurable. But so is the joy. Hearts melt with every "Mommy, will you please read me another story?" "Mommy, will you give me another kiss good-night?" "Mommy, I love you."

In the wake of their deaths, we made a final promise to Dylan, Daniel, Ana and Ben: to celebrate their lives by turning this tragedy into a moment of transformation. We are determined to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School by advocating common sense solutions -- solutions that address the issues that result in gun violence, including mental health policy, school safety solutions, addressing the isolation in our communities and, yes, gun safety and responsibility. Over the long term, we are committed to this holistic approach to gun violence and supporting new ideas, innovations, legislation and individual action.

We are very proud of the Connecticut legislature and Governor Malloy for the bipartisan approach they took in passing one of the most sensible gun laws in the country. While we were certainly disappointed by the outcome of the U.S. Senate's recent vote on background checks, please know -- we are not going away.

There have been nearly four thousand gun related deaths since Newtown. Too many mothers are spending too much time talking to their children in heaven instead of across the kitchen table. We draw support from the tens of thousands of letters and cards we've received from those of you who stand with us. We are emboldened by the courage of victims like Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who have committed their lives to achieve meaningful change. We soldier on, because like all movements, there are tipping points, and we believe this is ours. It is time, as six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene once said, to "let love win." There are 150 million parents in this country and it's our goal to unite them in a place of common ground. This is the Sandy Hook Promise.

This Mother's Day, we encourage you to make the Sandy Hook Promise with us. Today is not about guns, laws or politics; it is about mothers and love. As "Sandy Hook Moms," we often hear the phrase "I can't imagine what you are going through." Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it's like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same. We never thought our school, our community or these innocent children would ever face the unspeakable. The more we as parents expand the boundaries of our love beyond our family and to all children, the more likely a tragedy like the one that broke our hearts will never happen again.

To all the moms reading this, Happy Mother's Day, and thank you. Many of you wrote moving letters to us as we faced our darkest moments. You'll never know how much your kindness helped us face the day ahead. In return, we remind you to cherish every moment. Hold your children extra close every chance you get. Bask in their smiles. The dishes, or anything else, can wait. We promise.

To join us in making the Sandy Hook Promise, please visit:

Daniel and Jackie Barden

Sandy Hook Moms

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