by Diane Blankenburg
At this time of year, we gather with family and friends to show our love and appreciation. It’s a time to forgive those that have been hurtful and to show compassion to those that are without.
As I sit down to write this column, I keep seeing visions of a small town in Connecticut. The horrific and senseless tragedy that hit Newtown last week will never be understood—the angelic faces of 20 children and heroic stances of 6 adults will never be forgotten.
But amidst the tremendous pain and suffering came amazing generosity and compassion. Two particular situations boldly stand out to me. A young couple who had lost their precious daughter, Gracie, stood up to the world and said there is no room for hate. With their little girl as their model, they were determined to let her light and love shine through them by forgiving the unforgivable.
Then there was the group of ten volunteers who drove their beloved golden retriever therapy dogs for 900 miles from Chicago to Newtown to help ease the town’s pain. Comfort dogs, as they are officially called, are specially trained to comfort people when they are suffering. How nice to watch the dog hugs bring a smile back to the community’s grief-stricken faces.
Both of these acts brought light into my heart and brought back hope that had been so violently shattered. Hope that we can love in spite of hate; hope that we can forgive while still hurting; and hope that we can keep on giving no matter how desperate.
Nevada Humane Society has thousands of volunteers that regularly give their time and efforts to help homeless pets. They come from all walks of life and give back in a variety of ways. On December 14, the same day as the Newtown tragedy, we held a holiday party to honor and thank these generous volunteers. While reflecting on great moments throughout the year, one young mom stood up and said how much she appreciated the program and how proud she was of her teenage daughters who are also devout volunteers. She said that it is our duty to bring up a new generation of compassion and giving—a generation that is the foundation for the hope of our future.
So this week, I am spending family time with my brother and his wife who I love dearly. I am visiting a kind, generous friend for fun and relaxation. And I’m hugging my three precious Labrador Retrievers who regularly bring a smile to my face. I still wrestle with the why of Newtown—but am hopeful that love, compassion, and generosity will shine bright and true in the days to come.