Sunday, December 30, 2012

White Out

Snowfall Estimates Reach Up To A Foot; Numerous Car Crashes Block State Roads
Weekend snow slows the holiday pace . Hartford Courant map
The non-stop holiday pace was upon us. Christmas had replayed itself over and over again at my sister-in-law’s house (two weeks ago), my daughter’s house Christmas Eve, and my brother’s Christmas Day, all back and forth over about 250 miles. When I settled in back home, the day after Christmas, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law from California flew in just an hour or so before an ice storm. The family re-gathered then and again yesterday.

Whole lot of visiting going on. So much so, it almost turns into a blur. A merry blur, yes, but a blur nevertheless.

A snowstorm broke up yesterday’s afternoon gathering. After a week or two of driving here to there, and back again, in the fast lane, there was no choice but to slow up on the road. With inches of snow steadily accumulating, we said our goodbyes and crawled home. Took me twenty minutes, twice as long as usual. Would have taken my daughter and her family a couple of hours, but the storm was so intense, they stopped halfway – at her mother-in-law’s house – for a spontaneous overnighter. They had passed just too many spin outs and abandoned cars on the highway.

The snowstorm slowed the season down a bit , whited-out the evening obligations. Will get me to stay put a day or so. Take in the purity of the snow and the season.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Give the Gift of Comfort

I bet you haven’t completed your holiday shopping yet. There probably are a few names on your list especially difficult to shop for. They are the ones who aren’t into the merriment of the season as much as the memories of past seasons; the seasons before they suffered the loss of a loved one whose absence has made every holiday season since incomplete. Or maybe it’s a number of losses of family and friends. I think that as we get older, we get filled with our losses.

These special names on your list might do well with a gift of comfort that comes from reading a memoir of loss and recovery. I suggest my memoir of loss and recovery Staying Alive: A Love Story, nominated for the 2012 Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year.  Called, "a beautiful reminder of what really matters," the book also received a Readers Views 2012 Award and the recommendation of the American Association of Health Care Professionals.

You can read an excerpt and readers' comments on Staying Alive: A Love Story, available in print and ebook formats, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the iBooks Store. For even more information on the book, go to my website.

Staying Alive: A Love Story might be the right read for a special person on your holiday list. The one seeking comfort as much as joy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When Will We Ever Learn?

wWill we ever look at a six-year-old the same way again? Will we ever feast our eyes on the child’s spontaneity and spunk without thinking of 20 kindred spirits? Twenty children caught up in their morning lessons: sounding out storybooks, counting beyond their fingers and toes, arts-and-crafting, singing seasonal songs.

Will we ever be able to keep ourselves from then snapping our mind’s eyes shut, contorting our faces into countenances of disgust and sorrow, as we recall the horror that invaded the world of of twenty first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School?

Will we remember to keep in our hearts the other children and teachers of Sandy Hook? Hundreds, besides the twenty children and five educators who lost their lives, who - every day, as survivors-  will relive the terror they felt as they crouched in hiding or ran to the firehouse for sanctuary.
Will we finally come to our senses about the lethal mix of guns and mental illness ?  In the last few days President Obama and former senator Joe Scarborough have  eloquently voiced the tipping point Sandy Hook has tragically brought the nation to, the President during the memorial service in Newtown Sunday night and the senator at the start of his morning show, Monday.
Will the rest of us then reopen our eyes to the statistics that have been mounting for far too long,? The numbers linking kids with guns ( listed below). Newtown's  gunman was only 20 years old.-a  troubled young person still living with his mother, whose life he took using her gun, before moving on to Sandy Hook Elementary School with her arsenal in hand.
Each year, there are 34,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. How many of those deaths are children, and has that number increased in the last few years? Here are the facts.
Safety Expert Gavin de Becker has found in researching his books, The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift that:
  • Everyday, about 75 American children are shot. Most recover –- 15 do not.
  • The majority of fatal accidents involving a firearm occur in the home.
  • Gunshot wounds are the single most common cause of death for women in the home, accounting for nearly half of all homicides and 42 percent of suicides.
  • An adolescent is twice as likely to commit suicide if a gun is kept in the home.
  • More teenage boys in America die from gunfire than from car accidents.
  • Gunshot wounds are now the leading cause of death for teenage boys in America (white, African-American, urban, suburban).

Researchers at have collected the following statistics on kids and guns:
  • Twenty-nine percent of high-school boys have at least one firearm; most are intended for hunting and sporting purposes.
    Six percent say they carry a gun outside the home.
    The National Institute of Justice, 1998
  • From 1980 to 1997, gun killings by young people 18 to 24 increased from about 5,000 to more than 7,500.
    During the same period, gun killings by people 25 and older fell by almost half, to about 5,000.
    The US Department of Justice
  • There are about 60 million handguns in the United States.
    About 2 to 3 million new and used handguns are sold each year.
    US Senate Statistics
  • Nearly 500 children and teenagers each year are killed in gun-related accidents.
    About 1,500 commit suicide.
    Nearly 7,000 violent crimes are committed each year by juveniles using guns they found in their own homes.
    Senator Herb Kohl, sponsor of the safety lock measure.
  • In 1994, every day, 16 children age 19 and under were killed with guns and 64 were wounded in this country.
    National Center for Health and Statistics, 1996
Will we ever learn?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

As Senseless as it Gets

Hartford Courant photo of Sandy Hook service
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting is about as senseless as senseless can get. After killing his mother at home the murderer travels to the school to deliberately target the kindergarten students.There is still a question as to his mother's connection to the school.

The more we hear about this horrific crime, the more incomprehensible it gets.  

Four trauma units were readied at Danbury hospital. Over 80 staff members waited for an expected influx of injured. Only a handful arrived. Most of the 28 fatalities (mostly children) had died at the scene.  

This all happened at a time when the parents of most early elementary school children worry more about challenges to their sons and daughters belief in Santa Claus, than their safety at school. Yet, less than two weeks before a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of a Child, twenty Sandy Hook five-year-olds have been robbed of their lives. Their surviving schoolmates, stripped of their innocence.

The hurt will sting even more as the shock factor wears off and even as it begins to heal. As the feeling comes back we must start to try to make some sense of the senseless. Look deep into the most obvious causes of the tragic effects: troubled individuals, troubled families, troubled times and the too accessible means to act out one’s inner demons: guns. Ask ourselves how we can prevent mass killings of innocent lives, a crime that occurs more and more often.   

But for now, for this weekend, and through the weeks of this holy season that has turned to a mourning season for our nation, let us pray for the peaceful repose of the children and adults who lost their lives and for the comfort of those who loved them.