Reality Shift

It’s taken a while for me to put my feelings about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut into thoughts, let alone words. It was all I could do to just put the last two posts up encouraging support for the family of one of the children who was killed, Noah Pozner. Despite the fact that I have wept countless tears and my heart has felt as though it were a gaping wound, I haven’t been able to put a cohesive thought together about it. It is truly beyond comprehension. Moreover, I cannot help the tremendous feeling of guilt that has overcome me though my own sadness… The feeling that I have been so selfish to allow the tears when I cannot for a second know the pain that these mothers are in.

I was surprised at the level that I have been emotionally affected by what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. I realized that while I was able to separate myself from the shootings Aurora, or even the most recent tragedy here in NYC, I wasn’t able to separate from this one. My son is nearly 6 and attends a public school. His class looks just like Mrs. Soto’s class, and their community is so similar to the one we live in. While the shooting actually took place in a different state, it hit home in so many ways and rattled me to my core.

I’ve noticed a shift in our reality in the days following the Newtown shooting. I was plagued with fear putting my son into school the following Monday, and leery of the public as a whole. It feels as though the air itself has changed… The atmosphere is heavy and riddled with doubt and uncertainty. My son explained the “lockdown” drill that he practiced with his school on Tuesday, and to hear the words “quiet as a mouse” and “hiding from the bad guys” even coming out of his sweet, innocent mouth just destroyed me. He doesn’t know about what happened at Sandy Hook, and I am grateful that I haven’t had to talk to him about it. I know these conversations have to happen at some point, but for now I am finding solace in his and Zoe’s innocence.

Life continues on though, and I’ve had to consciously pick myself up and forge ahead despite my doubts for our nation and a violence-free future. The only way to battle despair is with hope, so I planned to participate in Ann Curry’s #26Acts of Kindness and spread a little love to our community by handing out 2 dozen pink roses in honor of Emilie Parker.


Seeing the smiles and surprise on the stranger’s faces was the best therapy, but even more heartwarming were the smiles from my children when they saw what simple, kind gestures can do for someone they don’t even know.

photo 3




I want my kids to be aware of other people and realize that we are all in this together. There are times when my entire day is turned around because someone smiled at me randomly or unexpectedly, not because they wanted or needed something from me, but just because. Living in the city it’s easy to put horse blinders on and mind my own business, but it’s the times when I’m really paying attention to the people around me that I feel the most connected-if not to them, just to myself. The more aware of each other we are, the tighter net we will weave for our community, and maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference.

Getting my children involved in positive, random acts of kindness has helped me process what happened in Newtown, though there is nothing that will make it better. I can only hope that change in some way will come from this horrible tragedy, even on the smallest scale (but hopefully on a very large scale).

If you would like to donate to Noah Pozner’s family, you can do that here. All funds go into a trust for the Noah’s siblings.

The response to my outreach for Noah has left me absolutely humbled and so grateful for this space and for all of you. Everything from vehicle loans to toys have been donated to Noah’s family, including two trees that will be planted in Central Park in honor of Noah and his twin sister (to donate to that fund, please head over here) thanks to Natalie over at Twiniversity. You all are amazing and I have seen firsthand the incredible good and generosity in people and it is truly awesome.

photo 1
Outside the U.N. Building, NYC

Join the Conversation


  • Your children are wonderful and they are learning goodness from you. I am so heartbroken over this. I feel similarly.

  • lovely post and I have not written about because I just dont know what to say so thanks

  • I too have had a very hard time processing this. I don’t know that it ever really can be processed, because it’s just so wrong and inconceivable and unimaginable. The one way that it changed me almost immediately was that I was no longer able to have an agree-to-disagree attitude towards gun proponents. It may very well end up with me no longer speaking to members of my own family. But I just can’t tolerate it any more.

  • So wonderfully said.

  • The Newtown tragedy is added to the many inconceivable tragedies that I have witnessed in my life…as a grandmother I wish that I did not have to witness young moms such as yourselves going through the pain of losing a child.
    When my children were in elementary school there was the Laurie Dann elementary school shooting here in Chicagoland. Afterwards myself and other young moms were happy with the fact that schools doors were locked…it was not enough and we have had twenty plus years and more senseless shootings to come to grips with.
    It is obvious to me that our generation did not do enough for gun laws and control which is just one way to help stop these tragedies…we must also fight to have mental health services more accessible as well as teach parents the skills of good parenting. This is such a multi-faceted problem that affects all levels of our society.
    As you implied there are so many good people that we share our space with and every day even a smile can make a difference in our day.
    I am sorry my generation did not make a difference in gun control, I want to share and support your efforts in gun control and making our world a better and safer place for your children and in my case my grandchildren.
    Thanks as always Jessica for sharing your thoughts today you were the smile in my day.

  • Oh Jessica my eyes teared up reading this. The pink rose idea was absolutely lovely. I agree with being so heartbroken and torn about what happened. I think the reason is that we really know what 6 looks like. I read a post somewhere entitled “This is 6” and it was precisely about that. When you have a child that age you truly know and understood the pure innocence and somehow it hits so close to home.

  • I feel it too. Absolutely on edge in public…what kind of world do we live in where I now scope every building for emergency exits upon entering? Thank you for all you’re doing to help the community pull itself back together. Those pictures of your smiling kids handing out flowers are adorable!

  • Two of my children are the same ages of those who died in Newtown. I also live in Connecticut, so this atrocity hit close to home. I admire your philanthropic efforts and am glad they’re helping you come to terms with this tragedy. I made a monetary donation to one of the Newtown charities and am moving forward. I am devastated by what happened, but also strongly feel that it’s not my sadness. I owe it to those families directly impacted not to wallow in sadness, or fear. Making our kids feel safe and secure by believing in the inherent goodness of people in our community is essential.

  • I too felt just like you — couldn’t form a coherent thought about Newtown and still not sure my two posts on it make complete sense. You expressed yourself beautifully and so many of us can relate to your feelings exactly. I too immersed myself in a fundraising effort for one of the Newtown families (Benjamin Wheeler) because a fellow blogger friend knows them well. The pink rose gesture was absolutely heartwarming as were your photos depicting your kids handing them out. In addition to the random acts of kindness, which I too want to continue to do and involve my kids, I hope to be part of one of the pet therapy teams who visit Newtown on a long-term basis (I currently volunteer with my dog locally). I want to continue to help that community in any way I can although I’m not sure it will ever feel like “enough.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • All we can do is love our children and love our children some more. Thank you for being beautiful.

  • I have to commend you on your post. I too have been having a hard time dealing with what happened in Connecticut. I have also struggled and wondered why I had been able to separate myself from the other shootings but not this one in particular. My days recently have been a bit off and dreary but as you said life does continue on. These children will never be forgotten. Although I don’t reside in NYC, I thank you for your random act of kindness as well as teaching your children the same. May your family continue to be blessed.
    p.s. I came by your blog via twitter.

  • This is a lovely post and it is wonderful you went to the streets to spread goodwill. That, if anything, is something we must continue to do.

    This is what I wrote about it.

Follow @mommasgonecity on Instagram