As President Obama marked the first anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut, tragedy with a moment of silence, one of the grieving mothers marked it with 1,248 heart-wrenching words. Teresa Bomgardner Rousseau's daughter, Lauren, had recently been hired as a full-time substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the shootings. In the Connecticut Post, Rousseau recalls the achingly normal night she and Lauren had on December 13, 2012: The Christmas tree had just been purchased (a huge one, as was important to Lauren), and Lauren and her mom talked while doing the dishes before Lauren fell asleep on the couch and missed finding out who won Project Runway. "We have it on Tivo," her mom assured her later, as they said goodnight. "You can find out anytime." That was the last time they saw each other.
The next day, when she learned of the shooting, Rousseau was hopeful for hours that her daughter may have survived. Of the next "lost week," she writes, "I remember that nightmare time as one in which our happy past was a blur and our future a troubling fog." But the family has been comforted by hearing from other people whose lives have been touched by Lauren's story, and Rousseau realizes that grief is "required of multitudes of people every day," not just Sandy Hook families. "One's own grief is lessened by recognizing other people who are hurting and reaching out to help them," she writes. "At Christmas and all year long, do the right thing, be unreasonably generous, cherish your family, choose love, chase joy, don't hold grudges, ignore life's little irritations." Her full column is worth a read. (Read more Newtown, Connecticut stories.)