I wallowed in my uncomfortable pregnant body on December 14, 2012. I was focused on getting Eden out and here in my arms. I had heard of the shootings at Sandy Hook, and my heart was sad for all of those families affected by the tragedy... but I was removed from the situation. That senseless act happened so far away, when it was actually going to hit close to home.
As I sat in the waiting room, I got the call from my Step Mom that Emilie Parker was one of the victims in the Sandy Hook shootings. I had never met Emilie, but I knew her family. Emilie's father Robbie, is a couple of years older than me, and his brother a year younger. They grew up four houses down from my Dad and Janis' house. Emilie's grandpa Randy, was my manager when I was a supervisor for Deseret Book. When we were with my Dad on Sundays, we were at church with the Parkers. My dad is currently the Bishop of their ward at church. We know them well, though I don't see them very much since I got married and started my own family.
I didn't realize that Robbie and Alissa had moved to Connecticut. When Janis told me what had happened... I just started to cry. I had and still have this choking/paralyzing feeling of "What if that was Asher?" I can't imagine the pain that Alissa goes through each day with this void in her life. I have read her blog and know that there is pain, sorrow, and anger... amid the hope and happiness.
My dad had such a heavy burden placed on his shoulders during this time. As Bishop of the ward, he set about getting things prepared for Robbie's family to come back to Utah. He was one of the family's spokespeople, and had TV and newspaper interviews to do. There were so many things to take care, and fortunately there were also many helping hands. When I had Eden on December 16th, and my Dad and Janis were able to come to the hospital... Janis just held Eden and said to her, "You are a bright and happy spot in a very sad week!" They couldn't stay long, there was so much to do... but I am glad they were able to come.
I admire my dad and how he handled all of the stress. The sadness was counterbalanced with all of the small miracles and tender moments. I can't share them here because they aren't mine to share, but I find comfort in knowing that there is a loving Heavenly Father who brings peace to scared children and considers a mother's wounded soul.
As I lay in the hospital waiting to have Eden, and even after... all that was on the TV was coverage of the shooting. I at least got to see Robbie's interview where he spoke of Emilie and the hope and forgiveness he felt. I couldn't keep watching and didn't ever even see my Dad on the news. I wish that Robbie and Alissa could take a break like that... but you can't forget the pain, and you certainly don't want to forget the memories.
I remember as we drove to my Dad's for Christmas Eve. There were pink ribbons all over Ogden in honor of Emilie's favorite color. The solidarity that Robbie and Alissa's hometown was showing, moved me to tears. This was more so when I drove up my parents' street. It was covered in bows of various sizes and shades of pink. It was a sight! Abbie asked what they were all for, and I choked out my answer. Almost everyone is considered by Abbie to be her friend. Even this week, Abbie said she drew a picture for her friend that died, or that she is sad that her friend died. She never knew Emilie either... but the site of all those ribbons made an impression on Abbie's heart. Through all of the snowstorms, after these three cold months... you can still see ribbons tied to lamp posts and tree branches. Faint little reminders of the impact of Emilie's life.
Emilie's death and Eden's birth are intrinsically linked together. When I think about one, I think about the other. There is a cycle to this life, and I have a firm knowledge that there is true happiness waiting for us when this life draws to a close.
Emilie leaves behind a legacy of LOVE. Her family speaks of hope and forgiveness. Her death and the deaths of the others brought a ward, community, city... a Nation together. This sad, devastating situation has good that comes of it.