Making memories and keeping the kids close after tragedy
As Friday came near an end, I drove to my children’s school. My step quickened as I neared the door.
I could not get to my children fast enough. And I’m sure many East Valley parents – and parents nationwide – felt the same way.
I walked through the entry and heard the children’s voices, Friday’s tragedy back East fresh in my mind.
Throughout the morning, while I worked, I kept the radio on. I heard the stories of the first responders, sobbing as they exited Sandy Hook Elementary School. There were young voices, children who had escaped the school, telling reporters what they had experienced.
I couldn’t turn on the television. I wasn’t ready for those images. To be honest, I still haven’t looked through them.
Inside my daughter’s classroom, she and her classmates wrapped each other in toilet paper, dressing up as snowmen for their holiday party. She spotted me and ran over for the biggest embrace I could give her.
When the party ended, we gathered her brother. I drove to the nearest restaurant play area. With my kids firmly in my sight, I finished writing my stories. A few hours later, we got baby sister.
I made a quick decision after dinner. The daycare was hosting a holiday craft party, complete with the man in the big red suit.
I called my in-laws, who just live a few miles from my house.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
My mother-in-law responded, “Unfortunately, watching the news of the shooting.”
“Why don’t you come with me to take the kids to see Santa,” I told her.
It took about 10 seconds for their affirmative response.
We spent an hour that night, watching the glee on the children’s faces as they talked to Santa, decorated candy canes to be reindeer and strung bells together for bracelets.
My mother-in-law later told me that my father-in-law had called her in the afternoon.
“I think we need to hug our grandchildren tonight,” he’d said.
I’m so glad I was able to give them that opportunity.