The young man that stormed Sandy Hook School that cold December morning last year was the kid that sat alone at the lunch table. I can't help but wonder if someone, anyone, had gone over to him and asked: "Would you like to join us?"
It has been one year since I saw my sweet little Emilie. I will be honest, I hate when the media comes into town. I don't like seeing their vans with large satellite dishes parked on every corner. I don't like seeing my daughter's picture on the news associated with her violent death.
I'm writing Jesse's words into the margins of my Bible next to Psalm 146. His words are an invitation to live differently than the way our culture pushes us to exist. His words make sense when I read them alongside this ancient text of Psalm 146.
It does take courage to live with faith and conviction in a society where children lose their lives, where young people go hungry and live in poverty, where senseless violence plagues us. But it's the only answer. Our actions and our words are the only way to push back.
The day had gone from being a routine December Friday in a historic and ornamented slice of CT, to a frenzy of standstill traffic, hovering helicopters palatable anxiety, and a swarm of media lining the narrow Sandy Hook sidewalks; the glow of holiday decorations all but obliterated by the harsh glare of their television lights.
The public is owed more information. We all want to know if there were opportunities to forestall such a gruesome tragedy. At the same time, we need to ensure that his story does not provide an insupportable platform for demonizing those with a mental illness.
I was one of a small group of volunteer Red Cross mental health professionals dispatched to Sandy Hook immediately after the shootings. We sought to both offer a compassionate presence and more direct counsel. But the practice of early mental health response to tragedy and disaster remains controversial.
Perhaps we vindicate Job by refusing to blame the poor for their poverty, by proclaiming the story of a mother who lost her child to a random act of gun violence, or by listening to the suffering of refugees in war-torn countries such as Syria.
On December 14, I sat in a firehouse surrounded by large group of concerned parents all wanting to know where our missing children were. I didn't know any of them. I didn't know that I would form a bond with this group of strangers that would forever connect us through tragedy.
Terrorism is politically motivated, and most gun violence in our nation is not. But when it comes to the impact of the easy availability of guns, it is hard to argue against the premise that we are being terrorized.
With quiet competence and courage, never having confronted this kind of horror before, Antoinette started talking to the young man, and surprisingly, he started talking back.
Sure, the NRA and gun lovers will kick and scream as they always do, but at some point, America must draw the line against letting those groups jeopardize our safety and take a stand for our right to be free of gun violence.
Though we suffer too, we're aware that it is only a small fraction of hurt compared with yours. So we hold each of you in our thoughts and in our hearts because that's something we can do.
We all give ourselves labels: liberal, conservative, gun owner, gun reformer, but none of those are instinctive. They are not in our DNA. Perhaps maternal instincts are the key to solving the horrific problem of gun violence.
As "Sandy Hook Moms," we often hear the phrase "I can't imagine what you are going through." Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it's like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same.
I'm a real-life gun guy. I own a gun shop and I have sold more than 15,000 guns. I'm also a member of the NRA. The NRA won because people like me, people who really know what guns can do when they are irresponsibly used, didn't have a way to make their voices heard.