The moment we heard about the horrific mass shooting in Connecticut, many of us had the same reaction: Go on social media and share our thoughts and prayers.
At a time of such intense pain and vulnerability, what else could we do? If we could only go back in time, alert the 26 victims -- 20 of whom were just 6 and 7 years old -- and save them from such a devastating end.
But we can't. It seems like all we can do is come together, mourn together and pray together.
If the last several months have taught us anything, it's that tragedy can strike anywhere and at any time. Politicians and activists are once again arguing over gun laws and whether we need more restrictions, but no amount of legislation can remove every unstable person from our midst.
If we live in an era where these heinous crimes are a reality, there's really only one thing to do.
Remember how you feel right now.
At this moment, everyone is talking about the Sandy Hook shooting. The media, your friends, your family. Everybody.
Soon, the conversation will subside. Other news will break and the national conversation on the Newtown tragedy will fade from view. Before that happens, capture your emotions. Open up a Word document and write for a few minutes. The violence, the victims, your own family, your own life. Put your thoughts into words.
Then, save the document somewhere you'll find it again and close it.
What you'd be writing is intensely personal and can remain that way. Don't feel compelled to post it on Facebook or a blog. Once the Newtown shooting vanishes from the front pages, your message will ensure you never forget what it all meant.
When we stumble upon our letters a month, a year, 10 years from now, they will serve as a powerful reminder to cherish all the people in our lives. Perhaps they will encourage us to look past each other's faults and appreciate what we've got.
You might even reach people who were about to snap before someone told them that they are loved.
Like President Obama said in his emotional speech Sunday night in Newtown: "We know we're always doing right when... we're showing acts of kindness. We don't go wrong when we do that."
Over the next few weeks, the media will search desperately for solutions to our gun violence. Yet the world will keep spinning, reporters and producers will find other top stories and, gradually, we will all move on.
So today, put your anguish and grief in a time capsule. Save it for the moments when you or someone you care about is frustrated, angry or hurt.
We will never bring back the Connecticut victims, but we can honor them by being grateful for what we have and always willing to reach out when someone needs a shoulder.
A letter to yourself will help ensure that happens.
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