I was on my way to Asheville last Friday when news of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting broke. Ever a journalist, I was glued to my phones, fumbling to find the news on the radio, desperate to know every detail.
At Jacob's urging, I forced myself to take breaks from the coverage to try and enjoy myself, listen to music, drink cold beers and soak up Asheville. The town and the people who live there are lovely - especially this time of year.
There were many times I was able to feel festive.
But many times, my mind, and my heart, were with Newtown, and my colleagues doing their best to temper their emotions to carefully cover the story.
When I got back, I became completely immersed, thrown into the fray of covering this horrific tragedy - striving to honor the victims with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, while also delving gently into the confusing, scary place of mental illness, a subject very near and dear to my heart.
I join the ranks of many who wonder, "Is no place safe anymore?" The movies? A grocery store? An elementary school?
But mostly, while wiping tears from my face at least once a day at work, and usually several times at home, I just feel heartbroken.
My heart breaks for the citizens of Newtown who lost loved ones and whose sleepy little New England town has become so well known for something so very sad.
My heart breaks for parents everywhere who had to answer their own children's questions about life, death, safety at school. I can't imagine trying to explain to a little one that the world is good, even if for that moment in time, it was not.
My heart breaks for all of us who are guilty, in the wake of tragedies like this, of making empty promises to be kinder, love harder, and hug our children tighter. I worry that within weeks, we will have forgotten the names and stories of the victims, forgotten how we feel right now, only to fall back into our same patterns of short tempers, partisan politics and selfish behaviors.
Tomorrow is the winter solstice, and assuming the Mayans were wrong and the world doesn't end, it will be the shortest, darkest and for many of you, the coldest day of the year. I'd venture to guess we've all had some dark days lately mourning this tragedy, and I'd like to think our darkest are behind us.
My yoga teacher said today that winter solstice brings the promise of increasing light and the chance for renewal - counterbalance to the dark and the cold.
I've been fortunate, while helping tell this awful story, to see these beacons of light - in the golden retrievers who came to Newtown to cheer up grieving citizens, in the California man who bought the town 100 cups of coffee sparking a random act of kindness movement, and in the endless tributes on television honoring those who died.
By Warren Haynes dedicating, "Imagine," to the Connecticut victims at his Annual Christmas Jam.
There is a sign that has been put up all over Newtown that reads, "We are Sandy Hook. We choose love."
At 9:30am EST tomorrow, I will pause for a moment of silence and reflection for the victims of Sandy Hook. And I am going to do my very best, in the memory of all of the precious souls who lost their life that day, to choose more love. Now. A week from now. Years from now.
Won't you join me?
Perhaps together we can, as President Obama said, "Make this world worthy of their memory."
Find out how you can help the victims of Newtown here.