Right now I am on my way home after a fabulous workshop hosted by Kevin Hall, author of Aspire. On the first leg of my flight I am sitting next to Robbie Parker, father of Emily Parker who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting 3 years ago. I knew Robbie was going to be speaking to us at the event, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to impact me.
The day of the shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, I was heading to the bank to pick up a cheque. I was just suppose to run in, grab the cheque, and leave. When I arrived they couldn’t find the cheque and made me wait and wait and wait. On the wall was a big screen TV, and the shooting was all over the news – the circus media sharing every detail they could find out as it was happening. In that moment I was crushed, my heart ached for all those families. It brought me back 32 years earlier to when I was 9 years old and my mother and 7 year old sister and I were in a car accident and both my mother and sister were killed. My father and I knew the heartache, knew the journey these families were about to embark in And we cried for them.
Fast forward one month, when the doctors gave us the news that my own 14 year old daughter Celeste only had days or weeks left to live. The cancer in her body had spread all over her brain and spine. There wasn’t anything the doctors could do. We were devastated. But at that time we were given the most comforting words I had ever received. A member of our clergy at church shared with us that ‘sometimes there are spirits that are so sweet and so special that God has to call them home.’ It was then that I looked at my daughter and realized that here was a girl that was such a sweet sensitive little soul, whose heart ached at seeing violence and cruelty in the world. If this was the world that we now live in, with such evil surrounding us, I could see God looking down at her saying “Little girl, you don’t need to stay in this world any longer, you can come home now.” That to keep her here would have been cruel and that this was a blessing to her. It gave me such peace and perspective that I was able to surrender and let her go.
Robbie when he shared his story, told us of the anger he experienced, the lack of control he felt in having Emily taken form him, but when he finally let go and surrendered he was able to finally feel at peace. Of course neither one of us has stopped missing our daughters, they will always be a part of our families, but being able to have that peace and perspective makes all the difference. And now I realize even more the necessity for those of us who have worked through our grief, to share our stories with other grieving parents, in order to help them gain greater peace and perspective and help them heal their broken hearts.