It is not the first time someone has said that to me. I am so very grateful for my pretty face, but I am even more grateful for the "whole lot more" that I have. I was not taught to be a race warrior. I was not taught to care about democracy or to research all of the current hot topics swirling around our country. I was not taught to believe that homosexuals and women and minorities deserved the same rights we seemed to only give to white dudes (I was not taught to not believe that either). I was not taught to put myself last, to think of others always, to carefully word my phrases when speaking on tough subjects. I was not taught to cry when someone is physically attacked by a police officer, I was not taught to cry when I relate to a song lyric, I was not taught to believe that you are only spoken when spoken to (clearly, cause I don't do that), I was not taught to love children, or to want them, or to believe that I was being watched over by the souls of my ancestors.
I was not taught to give my heart and soul to other people, but it is what I have always done.
There are some things that are gifts to you when you are brought into this world, regardless of how or who you were raised by. There are some things that come naturally to some people. I am naturally social, I am naturally loving and caring, I am naturally opinionated, I am naturally sensitive, I naturally care about things that may or may not affect me personally. Some things are not taught. Some things are natural. Not everything is thanks to the parents, and not everything is a parent's fault.
John Candy died when I was six years old. When I heard the news, I started crying. I remember the perplexed way my mother sighed, "Jessie, you didn't even know him." I didn't even know him, but he was in some of my very favorite movies and he seemed like such a nice guy and he was so young, I mean, I had no idea how old Candy was when he passed (44, yes, far too young), but it felt too soon.
Thinking about a six year old crying over an actor's death is heartbreaking to me.
It seems like a nothing story, like a blip on my life's radar, but it did not stop there. I think I have cried at every passing of anyone I have ever heard of, celebrities included, save a few that seemed inevitable, because of age or drug habits. (Does not make it not sad, I know, just different.) When Michael died, I cried every day for two weeks, and I usually still cry when I hear "You Are Not Alone."
It all translates. Childhood behavior is not random. I cried when I found out Full House was ending, I cried when I saw The Lion King (who didn't?), I cried when my mom left my stepdad, I cried every time I argued with my brothers or cousins, and Nicole and Daniel used to accuse me of "crocodile tears," but I have never fake cried in my entire life. I used to cry in my bedroom because I thought crying was kind of weak, but I embrace it now. I will openly cry because I think it makes you stronger.
I remember sobbing as I heard the news about the twin towers, and I wasn't even entirely sure what the twin towers were. I remember crying at the stories of the way we treated our Middle Eastern citizens after 9/11. I remember crying every single time I heard the "I Have a Dream" speech in elementary school.
I am a sensitive soul.
Imagine my reaction to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I was on my way to see The Hobbit and briefly considered canceling. I have never experienced such a horrific news story in my life. I could not stop thinking about children I knew, thinking of the slight age difference between the children I hold close to my heart and the children that were senselessly murdered at a place we should consider safe.
These last few days have been awful. I cannot even imagine the experiences of the family members of the people directly affected if it feels so mournful to the rest of the country. I do not have children, but I cannot imagine losing my six year old child ever, nonetheless while he or she was in school. I am not a teacher, but I cannot imagine ever having to think so quick on my feet in order to save a schoolroom of children. I am overwhelmingly emotional about the reality of this event, I am torn over guns and mental health issues, I am saddened by the way we fight with each other when we should be holding one another closely. I have subconsciously loved everyone in my life even deeper than I thought I could recently, I have hugged everyone more often and much tighter.
I kissed my dearest friend's son on his face as he pushed me away, telling me my kiss "hurrrrrrrrt" and my choice in cheese "smelled disgusting." I was carrying him as we walked into Target and as he shivered (it is cold outside!), I literally ran him inside the store to warm his small, sassy being as quickly as possible. He was mean to me the whole time we were in Target, but I loved him more than I thought I could ever love him, or anyone, really.
Your mind plays tricks on you. You can think you already love and appreciate everyone in your life as much as you possibly can, but that just is not true. I would never monopolize on another human being's pain, but my gosh, I am grateful that my family and friends are safe.
Something minute, but I can donate my money and my well wishes and my overflowing sympathies to these families.
We lost a Starbucks partner, and she sounded remarkable. I loved the story of the teacher (Victoria Soto) who hid her kids in a closet and lied to the gunman about their whereabouts in order to save them. She lost her life, but she saved the lives of multiple children. Their families must be so grateful.
In times of great, great, unimaginable tragedy, how wonderful is it to hear the heroic stories of mankind? We are capable of so much.
I wanted to have a list for you, I wanted to be able to tell you all of the things I have learned this year about mankind and humanity, but at this moment, I can only express my sadness, I can only express my grief.
I don't have pictures appropriate for this sentiment, I don't have anything to add that everyone else has not expressed at this point, I do not believe in a god that I can tell you I am praying to for everyone, I only have my humility.
Love your families, love your friends, love the children of our world.