It’s that time of year again, the time where we all sit back and reflect on the year. Where we go through our list of resolutions and see how many we broke before January even ended. Where some of us vow, “This year WILL be my year!” and make a list of goals we want to accomplish.
I do the same thing. I am likely the world’s worst goal setter and I can’t follow through with much of anything, mainly because I want to do TOO much. I make and break my promises to myself over and over. It’s a really bad habit that I need and want to break. This year it will be different. I pledge to make these changes. I do so with a little more intention, a little more gratefulness, a little more resolution, but also with a lot more sadness.
The last quarter of 2012 has been a very trying one. It has tested what little faith I have. It has brought a lot of pain to a lot of people. It’s also brought out some of the best in people. But it has brought a lot of sadness.
In early November, my dear friend’s son was in a very tragic accident. Some of you may be familiar with my posts about #teamrobby. In short, Robby, a four-year old ball of energy, suffered an anoxic brain injury after being trapped under a fallen tree for too many minutes while his father and emergency personnel attempted to remove the tree. After spending a week in the hospital, his family made the decision to take him off his respirator and donate his organs to other children. Hoping for a miracle but preparing for the worst, the family said their goodbyes to Robby and switched his respirator off. Robby kept breathing, and has been breathing on his own ever since. He still has a long way to go in his recovery, and the emotional roller coaster is far from over for my friend. She is still hopeful that with alternative treatments and therapies that Robby will continue to heal and improve.
On the day that the respirator was to be shut off, November 11th, my heart was so heavy. I felt angry, I felt sad, and I felt frustrated that someone so young and so innocent would have to face such a difficult battle. That my friend was faced with the decision to keep her son on a machine, or take a chance and let him breathe on his own. That any parent would have to make that decision, have to live with that choice. I was angry at all of the trivial posts I was seeing that day on my Facebook feed, of friends complaining that they ate the last of their ice cream, or that they didn’t get to sleep in because their dog had to go out, tons of just ridiculous garbage. It just….set a fire under my ass.
Since Robby’s accident the amount of support that has been pouring out from literally around the world for Robby and Angela is amazing. Broadway shows were tweeting #teamrobby photos. He has fans in Belgium! People are asking how they can help or donate time, money, and services to the family to help with Robby’s recovery. People have been consistently sending prayers on the Facebook page. The amount of love being sent by everyone, many of whom do not know of Robby and Angela personally, is overwhelming in such a positive way. I know of instances where people who were affected by Robby’s story reached out and reconnected with an old friend whom they had a previous falling out with.
Robby’s accident taught me compassion and forgiveness. It has inspired people all around the world to be better people. Robby has showed me what it is to have strength, not only through his brave battle, but through his mother, and the rest of his family. Robby has shown me faith, hope, and love.
Several weeks later, on December 14th, another tragedy struck, this time at an elementary school that the previous day was just an ordinary school in an ordinary town right here in Connecticut. When the news broke that morning, I can’t even begin to describe the thoughts and feelings I felt. An elementary school? What the fuck?! I kept repeating it over and over. As the news websites were rolling in with updates, some insanely inaccurate, the numbers were becoming increasingly higher. By the end of the day, the number held at 26. 20 children, six teachers. Shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My heart broke for all of those families. I was in Maine that weekend, and we do not have a TV there. It was probably for the best, as it really shielded me from the worst of the coverage. I didn’t hear names. I didn’t know I would have a personal connection there until later that evening.
The moment I found out my college friend, Vicki, was among the victims, I felt my heart drop. I felt like someone had sucker punched me in the gut, I couldn’t breathe. I don’t know how I made my way to the couch, but I collapsed into it. I didn’t want to believe it. I frantically started Googling and immediately saw photos of her plastered all over the media. I went to her Facebook page. No, no no, this isn’t real. She isn’t gone. Maybe she was injured, but she’s ok, this is just a mistake, the news has been wrong all day they are wrong about this too. Goodbyes and RIPs posted on her wall. OMG. This isn’t real. This is a bad dream, this whole thing isn’t real. I broke down, every single memory of her came flashing back to me.
Never do you expect something like this to happen so close to home. And even when they happen close to home, the last thing you expect is that you know someone who was involved. Never do you expect to have a personal connection to something so horrific, something so vile, something so heart-wrenching. Having been a freshman in high school when Columbine happened, just out of college when Virgina Tech happened, I lived through the incessant media coverage of both. I felt for all of those families then. But this was different. When you can actually put a face and a voice and memories of a person to an event such as this, when you are forced to internalize this and realize that a piece of you will be affected forever…it makes to so much more (sur)real. I say it in that manner because it is. It doesn’t feel real, yet with the topic on every news station, every website, every person’s conversation for weeks on end, it is real. What doesn’t feel real is seeing your friend’s face in the media, her photo and her story shared day after day in the news. Random people sharing her story on Facebook, on Twitter. What doesn’t feel real is knowing that one of the kindest, most considerate, most beautiful people I had the honor of knowing, is gone. Was gunned down. I know that if it is affecting me in this way, I can’t even imagine or begin to imagine how all of the families and really close friends are feeling, how they are handling this situation.
Vicki’s untimely passing was not in vain. She managed to save most of her class. Her “kids” can grow up and become adults thanks to her sacrifice. Vicki was doing what she loved in the minutes before chaos ensued. She was teaching.
How many of us can say we are blessed to do what we love for work? I know that I can’t. I know that sitting behind a desk and looking at paperwork and writing reports that, quite honestly, no one gives a shit about is not how I envisioned my life. I never expected to be a rock star, but I certainly didn’t expect that I would be working and living on auto-pilot at 28. Existing day to day instead of living. Working at a job instead of working at a passion. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
So this year, in honor of Robby and Vicki, I pledge to make 2013 the best I can for myself. I pledge to find my passion, to live each day to the fullest. To stop and take time to breathe, to enjoy the little things. I pledge to do what makes me happy, to take care of myself. To not put off til tomorrow what I can accomplish today. To practice gratitude, and to live with intention. Through all the pain the last few months have brought, these are the lessons I’ve learned in 2012.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you all make 2013 your best year. Don’t take anything for granted.