Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cheshire Lights of Hope

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words but I'm hoping my words tonight will suffice. I tried to take pictures for you but none could capture the essence of what happened in Cheshire this evening. (Although seemed to be able to capture what I could not, if you are interested).

Last July a horrible tragedy occurred in my suburban town. During the night, a home wsa invaded and a mother and 2 daughters were brutally murdered. I did not know them. I have heard only wonderful things about them but since I did not know them in life, this post is about the lessons their horrific deaths have provided this town.

Tonight at sundown, approximately 14,000 families and countless businesses each lit 10 luminaries at the edge of their property. Around 4 pm everyone began coming out of their homes. In January. Everyone. Entire households. I live in a neighborhood where all you do is wave to your neighbors. For a while it was silent, even the kids were running around the yards without speaking. We were all reflective and selfishly thankful that it was not our home that was randomly invaded that July night. After a while, we piled the kids in the car to take a drive through town. It was unbelievable. Everyone was outside. Block parties were forming. (Did I mention it is January in Connecticut?) The town was unified, peaceful, and reflective.

It should not take death to bring communities together but sometimes it does. I sat between my girls in the car and squeezed them each a bit tighter because I am so thankful to be with them. We arrived home and I spoke with my neighbor instead of waving and rushing out of the cold. I sit now and watch the flames flicker on the street and I cry because I am so thankful that my girls are safely sleeping in their bedrooms.

It is my hope that these luminaries can allow this town to begin to heal without losing sight of the special people that we lost. People have asked why residents of the town didn't simply make a donation to the charity the luminary purchases supported. The answer is clear this evening. While the town raised over $100,000 for the MS charity that was important to this family, we all gained something that writing a check couldn't accomplish on it's own. We gained a sense of community. It is my hope that brings whatever little comfort it can to the surviving family members who remain in our daily prayers.

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