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"Where are you from?" the woman asked as our shared taxi sped through the streets of Philadelphia. I was heading home from the first overnight business trip I had taken since December 14.
"Connecticut," I said. When she pressed on -- wanting to know what town specifically -- I braced myself.
"That Sandy Hook?" she gasped.
I nodded, and turned my head to look out the window. I didn't really want to talk about it. I just wanted to get home to my kids.
When my town, community and family was rocked by violence, I wasn't sure when or if I could return to traveling for work. As a mother, I faced my child's mortality -- and it left me not wanting to waste a single moment.
Time has helped us to heal. My son, my sweet Will, is a Sandy Hook survivor. He huddled with his teacher and classmates in his classroom that morning, just across the hall from Victoria Soto's room. When he told me what happened that day -- how the gunshots got closer and closer -- my heart broke. My daughter, also a Sandy Hook School student, wasn't at school at the time, but was with me as I learned what happened and in blind hysteria rushed to find Will in the chaos.
At the train station, I answered the woman's questions, but not without crying. While my tears are less frequent now, they still come. They are tears of mourning for the lives, innocence and security lost, but also tears of gratitude. My children are still here.
Since that day, I have found myself more consciously grateful for every moment with my children than ever before, and thankful for all the joy they have brought to my life. In the hustle-bustle of the before-time, there were moments when I took all that for granted. But never again.
This Mother's Day will be more special than any other for me. Over the past five months, I have held my children close, reassuring them that although there is evil in the world, there is so much beauty and love, too. I have watched them find their way out of the cloud of trauma.
When my husband and children bring me breakfast in bed and shower me with hugs and kisses on Sunday, I will hold onto them a little tighter than last year. Everything will mean a little more. And all the time, I will hold in my heart the mothers who lost their children that day -- and the families that are left incomplete.
As our conversation turned to other subjects, I noticed that the woman had tears in her eyes, too. Because this tragedy affected all of us and we'll have to find our way forward together.
Sarah W. Caron is a writer and mom of two.
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