After Jack died, thoughts and prayers helped carry me.
I could feel our pain being shared in our town, across the country, and around the world by readers like you. You were willing to step into our story, to care and pray, even though it hurt. Those thoughts and prayers helped me get up and speak at Jack's service, and greet his classmates in the carpool line each day after school that first terrible year. They helped me have enough strength to parent Margaret in my most depleted state.
Some people wonder why "thoughts and prayers" are getting such a bad rap these days. I'd love to share my perspective.
For those of you who were with me in those early days, there was absolutely nothing that could be done to "fix" our family's situation. There was no real "cause" attached to Jack's accident. The best thing that could be done for us was to send up fervent prayers.
You prayed, and it did make a difference.
"Thoughts and prayers" ring hollow, however, when those in a position to effect change after a tragedy choose to do nothing, or even actively WORK AGAINST change, while saying they will pray.
This heaps pain upon pain. It is the utmost in disrespect.
When I see yet another child with cancer come across my timeline, I pray. Hard. But I also get out my credit card and donate to children's cancer research, because I know that money will make a difference. I am not a policy maker. I don't decide why children's cancer only gets about 4% of research funds. But I can pray, donate money, spread awareness, and not look the other way.
In the case of our nation's epidemic of school shootings, I can honor the children who died by advocating for common sense gun control. I can support Sandy Hook mom Scarlett Lewis's program to increase Social Emotional Learning so that fewer children will feel so alienated that they turn to violence.
It's easy to say that NOTHING will prevent all school shootings.
Is that reason enough not to try? The victims' families can't be "fixed." They need our prayers, big-time, as they grieve. How generous of them, in the depths of their pain, to use their voices to try to stop this from happening to another family!
There is no way to gauge the power of a single heartfelt prayer.
Or a single weapon that didn't get into the wrong hands.
Or one human connection that made the difference between destructive anger and hope.
I'll close with this powerful video from Aaron Stark, "I Was Almost a School Shooter" Interview is at the top, Aaron reading his letter is at the bottom.