Dear Stella

On Friday December 14, 2012 our household got up early to take a trip to Kokomo, Indiana, a city about an hour from us. We wanted to do some shopping at the grocery store there as it had a large selection of organic foods and I wanted to buy some as Stella will be starting to eat solids soon. I also planned on a fun side trip to see a new local art sculpture installed in the community. We had no idea about the tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook elementary school until we stopped to take a break at a local Starbucks. At the time we heard it was a ‘suspected shooting’ and that was all we knew. I chose to continue our day to go see the local art piece, but instead of just posting what was originally supposed to be a light-hearted photo of me and Stella looking at a 2-story sculpture of a praying mantis (you read that correct, 2-story mantis), I felt I needed to write this instead.

Dear Stella,

This post was not supposed to be written. I was supposed to writing about how we took a fun trip to see an awesome piece of local art. Instead I am writing to tell you something really important, but it is something I wish I actually never have to explain to you. Unfortunately, that is not how life works and so here it is.

Some day, in your life, something really sad may happen. It will be so sad that it might make you cry. It might make you scared. It might make you worry. And I want you to know that all these feelings are ok. That crying is ok. Most people are really uncomfortable with crying. Crying makes us feel weak, and vulnerable, and uncomfortable. Because crying makes us realize that we are not impervious. Crying makes us realize that we can be hurt, that we are fragile, and that we can be broken in spirit. But crying also helps us. It helps us process our emotions. It helps us realize we are not alone when we cry with one another. It helps us realize that we are fragile, and to love life all the more.

And here is something else you need to know. Some people ridicule those who cry, or those who express their feelings. And I want you to know that those people, those people are hurting too, and that they are hurting so much that they feel the need to lash out. I want you to forgive those who might make fun of those who cry.

And I want you to know what Mommy and Daddy did on a day that by the end of it saw us both deeply saddened and Mommy crying. I didn’t intend this day to be a life-lesson to you, but it ended up that way.

We had planned to drive to a city about an hour away that day to do some shopping. We have a local grocery store but you were almost 6 months old and Mama wanted to buy you some organic foods, because she is that Mom. I wanted to make sure your first bites of food were yummy and healthy and were the best I could get for you. I wanted the best for you.

Then after shopping Daddy took Mama to a local coffee-house for a treat for both of us and so we could nurse you more comfortably than sitting in the car. We don’t often splurge on trips like this so it was nice to have a treat and sit and relax as a family.

Then we went to what, for me, was going to be the highlight of our trip. A few weeks back Mama heard about a local art sculpture that had been installed in Kokomo, Indiana that was causing some flack. Not everyone was a fan of the 2-story praying mantis sculpture that had been installed in their downtown area. I, of course, upon hearing about it looked it up and was an instant fan. What a fun piece of art and how great that so many kids were going to see it and be inspired by it. What a great community, that despite its reservations, allowed this art to be installed. That says a lot about this community. That they support the arts, that they care about their kids, and that they want their community to be a place where a 2-story sculpture of a praying mantis is a welcomed and accepted thing.

Here are the pics that Daddy took of you, me, and ‘Kokomantis’:




Later that day, when we got home, we learned the full details of what turned out to be a very sad and tragic event. Mama cried on Daddy. Later that night we had an event at the church, a family movie night, that we needed to go to. So we put you to bed in your pack-n-play in Daddy’s church office and joined with others to spend time as a church family. Afterwards as I carried you home you woke up. Instead of just laying you back to bed in your crib at home, I took you into our bed and snuggled you until you were back to sleep.

In the end, as I looked back on our day, it was unintentionally a day long lesson on how to react when very sad things happen in our world:

Want the best for each other. Mama is a little ‘overboard’ with wanting the best for you and over analyzing everything from how we clothe you, feed you, the toys you play with, etc. That’s ok. You should want the best for everyone, because that is an expression of caring.

Take time to “splurge” and have treats and spend time as a family.

Support the local arts. Support any art. Support communities that support art, because those communities are the ones that care about its members.

Cry. Crying is not bad. Crying lets us know that our heart can’t handle things on its own and that we need to reach out to others. Crying lets others know, that it’s ok for them to cry too.

Spend time with your extended “family” whether it’s church, civic group, or neighbors.

Snuggle, hug, kiss, those you love. You will never regret taking time to show people you love them.

If you need some joy in your life and would like to support “kokomantis” and the wonderful community she lives in, you can “like” her on her Facebook page by clicking here: KOKOMANTIS


8 responses to “Dear Stella

  1. This is so well said, Chandra. What a sad life “lesson” that so many people are having to teach their children now, perhaps earlier than they were intending. You are so right that crying is okay and important – I wish our society was more supportive of it (and each other). Great post.

  2. How do we talk to our children about this….they are so young. so innocent. It just breaks my heart…

    I love the mantis…my favorite insect in a santa hat….LOVE this….a smile after a teary post…

  3. Yes it was and still is very sad, I can’t really wrap my head around what happen. I still tear up everytime I think about it, what happen there I WILL NEVER forget, just like 9-11. my flag, as are many others at half mast and will remain there thru the Holidays. I will hug my kids and grand children extra hard when I see them.
    The praying mantis is great, love it

  4. Very well said! I can appreciate so many things about this post.

  5. Well said. Thank you for sharing this. Such important lessons.. unexpected lessons… from such a heartbreaking, devastating situation. I love what you said about crying. Such an important lesson which I must remember to pass on to Alidia.

    PS – Love the praying mantis!! Very neat!

  6. I really love this post, kokomantis and all. Your momma has some pretty great words of wisdom, stella. I hope you soak it all up!

    p.s. you just made me extremely grateful for our abundance of local organic food around here. I would be “that” mom driving an hour away too. :o/

  7. The giant chicken, Kokomantis… we need three more giant metal sculptures and then we can each have one as our spirit animal 😉

    I love this. I really need to start keeping a private journal with letters to my girls in it.

  8. If this mantis were to have life?

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