Sunday, December 15, 2013

365 More

"525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments so dear.  
525,600 minutes.  
How do you measure? Measure a year? 
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. 
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In 525,600 minutes -- how do you measure a year in the life?  How about love?  
How about love?  How about love? Love.  
Measure in love.  Seasons of love." 
-- "Seasons of Love" from Rent (the musical)

I've had her for three hundred and sixty five more days.
An entire extra year.
Hundreds of thousands of minutes, countless moments, dozens of books and a myriad of chances to squeeze tighter, hold closer, give second chances and measure in love.

Today, of all days, it happened to be her First Reconciliation.
The irony of talking about sin and transgressions with someone who still believes in Santa and carefully writes notes to the Tooth Fairy and still sleeps with a multitude of stuffed of animals is not lost on me.
She knows about making good choices.  She knows how to be kind and thoughtful.
She does it pretty much every day.
I'm not too worried about her spiritual health.  
She's closer to God than almost anyone I know.
And yet, this is when our church says she's ready...and on this terrible anniversary of losing 20 six year olds, 
a whole bunch of seven year olds made another step forward.

In the glow of candles, amid family and friends, they spread out among four different priests and went up there and asked for forgiveness.

So much lighter now!
Caroline was worried about this whole process and so her teacher helped her out.  She asked her to hold a book.  Then she piled another one on top, and another, and another -- until she was holding five heavy books.  She told Caroline that when you do something wrong, it feels heavy and weighs you down. Then she swooped in and removed all the books.  She told her that she would feel so much lighter after Reconciliation. 

As we walked up to church, Caroline wondered aloud if she would "feel lighter".  She couldn't wait to find out.
She wasn't fearful.  She wasn't anxious.
She was curious.

Afterward, she sighed and said, "I'm so much lighter!"

I smiled...that lucky smile.
The smile of a momma who had someone else give their child a gift.
Someone else had given her another way to see the world.
I was so so grateful.

Walking home, I tried to hold her hand but she was skipping ahead.
My heart is always lifted when she skips...but then it remembered the twenty who no longer skip...and the many, many heavy hearts surrounding those twenty.

My heart always holds those twenty close.
I can't look at Caroline and not see them.

At her birthday, I thought of the quiet homes with no extra candle to add.
When she lost another tooth; got bolder swimming; started voraciously reading.
All of the days she spent singing, dancing, creating, laughing and telling knock knock jokes.

Six moving to seven -- 525,600 extra minutes.

What did I do with those precious extra?
How did I spend them?
Sadly and beautifully, we just went about our days...taking hikes, trying new things, making new pictures,
learning and wondering and asking and celebrating...
nothing too special...

until it's gone.

So, Newtown, Connecticut and most especially the families who have not had that extra,
I want you to know that your insane, mind-numbing loss is not forgotten.

You are alongside us on our journey now...forever.

We are lighting candles,
and choosing love every chance we get.


  1. Putting it into such concrete terms really makes it hit home...I think about all the minutes I've had with my children, and the painful process of watching them grow up and away from my arms...thank you.

  2. Jennifer, Thanks for your comment! It is a painful process...I just keep saying "roots and wings", "roots and wings" to myself about a hundred times a day. :) It's an honor to love them and have them in our daily lives...what a gift it is. Even on the difficult days! I had a friend who passed away when her two boys were in 4th grade and 2nd grade. So, feeling that deep loss (kind of) up close has always helped me keep perspective. It's the generous, right thing to let them go and test out their independence. And, I have to say, although it's torture having them gone...seeing them fly and what they do with that independence is truly beautiful!! Thanks again for taking the time to comment! ~Beth