Newtown destroyed my mantra.

Dear Mantra,

You have been with me through thick and thin. You have helped me understand, or at least pretend to understand, things that were completely incomprehensible. But you failed me this weekend. Big time. So what am I to do now?

A lost Orange Rhino


I have had my share of adversity in my short 35 years of life. Who hasn’t, right? We all have. Whether big or small, meaningful to everyone, or just meaningful to us, we all have faced adversity and we all have handled it in our own way. Some of us turn to religion, some of turn to friends, some of us turn to writing, some of us turn to silence, and some of us, and by us I mean me, turn to my Mantra for comfort.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Yes, I would tell myself when adversity hit, this is happening for a reason. This is happening perhaps to teach me, or to save someone from future pain, to save me from future pain.  And my mantra has served me really well over the years. It helped me explain to myself why three high school kids died in a car crash. Why they must have had something bad ahead in their lives so they were taken now to prevent their families from future pain. Right? Right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

My college-bound boyfriend broke my heart one day before my junior year high school finals. He told me that he just wanted to be friends, when in truth, he really wanted to keep dating his best friend who he had been seeing on the side. He broke my heart now so that he could do it in person because over the phone while at college would be too much pain. This way we got closure. Right? Right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

My grandmother found out that she had cancer five days before she died. The doctor told her it was operable, fixable. But she chose to pass on treatment and let her body go. This infuriated me. Selfishly I wanted more time with her. I wanted to have her meet my future grandchildren, to tell them about her days organizing protests for women’s rights, her days leading the Retirement Home community board with passion and an iron fist that scared the men. That of course never happened. But she did get to go to heaven to meet my grandfather I told myself, and that makes it all okay, right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

Oh the list goes on and on of all the times big and small I have used “Everything happens for a reason” as an excuse to bring me comfort, hope, understanding.

But what happens when that mantra fails? What happens when 20 kids my oldest son’s age are brutally killed and there literally IS NO REASON. I can not explain myself out of this one. I am left lost, sad, hopeless. I can not find comfort. I just find tears and heartache.

What happens then?

I let myself FEEL all that I am feeling. I tell myself there is no reason, there is indeed just pain. I tell myself it is okay to cry, as there will be a time when the crying will stop. I tell myself that I will be okay and I tell myself to find love. To find it wherever I can and embrace it. To find kindness wherever I can and embrace it. To find peace wherever I can and embrace it. Because love, kindness and peace remind that there is good in this world. Because love, kindness and peace don’t just bring me comfort, they bring me hope.

My go-to mantra for hard times failed me this weekend. Instead of giving up and feeling lost, I think it is time for a new mantra. Maybe it’s time to embrace something I have come to learn during this challenge. Maybe my new mantra should be,

“When all else fails, look for love.”

The Orange Rhino