This was written in December 2012 after the horrible atrocity in Newtown, Connecticut.
As we address gun violence and terrorism more and more all of the time, this letter feels appropriate to share now. The most important thing is that we never let these monsters win.
Dear Liam and Derek,
Something horrible and scary happened last Friday. The details are more than any small child should have to know or deal with at all so I will just say that someone evil did an evil thing to a lot of innocent people. The fact is these kinds of things happen. What you need to know is that your father and I are here to protect you. You are not ready to protect yourself and you do not have to.
When that horrible thing happened your father and I were very sad and shaken up. You know why? Because we love you two more than anything. We couldn’t bear the thought of anything so scary ever happening to you. It reminded us of what is most important to us: our sweet little Fish and Bear.
Since then I have thought a lot about what I want to learn from this event so that I can pass that learning on to you. What I have learned is simple. Life is short and sacred. We must always show the ones we love how much we love them. Most of all, sometimes things happen that just don’t make sense… that aren’t right and aren’t fair and that cannot be explained. You have to face those events with grace and dignity. You have to be brave and strong.
You don’t have to be strong or brave yet. We will do that for you. But, someday, you will be men: husbands and fathers. You will have to face things that you may not like and that you may not understand. I hope that nothing so awful as what happened last week ever happens to you. I hope that the worst of it for you is relatively mild. I can’t promise that because sometimes things just happen but, my goodness, do I hope that for you.
I want you to know that we all face challenges, fear and injustice. No one is immune. I have faced plenty of it myself. However, the things that have been the most difficult have prepared me to be your mother which is, without question, the hardest job I have ever had. I am much better for having faced those obstacles and those fears. There is no shame in being afraid but you can’t let your fear get the best of you. Do not hide from your fears. Ever. Be the kind of men who face things and the kind of men who protect others when necessary. You may not understand why you have to be strong or it may seem unfair that your life has taken a certain turn but that is life. You can’t always make sense of it. You certainly can’t control the behavior of others.
There are people in this world who, sadly, are not good and who do not have others’ best intentions in mind. That is just the truth. However, there are lots more people who are kind and loving and who will help you when you are in need. Most importantly, you MUST be one of the good guys. You must always be a kind and loving person and act with care for others. It is imperative. I am your mother and I am ordering you to do so.
Life is truly beautiful. I promise. There will be more sunny days than stormy skies. There will be great joy from the most hideous situations. You will see. You will understand this more as you get older. For now, just trust me and always move forward with an open heart and a happy spirit. And when it comes time to be men, try to be the kind of men that other men strive to be. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
I read this quote once and I think it is fitting here:
“There are monsters, and it’s okay to be afraid of them but it’s not okay to let them win and it’s not okay to be one.”
That is the absolute, unequivocal truth.