This mother’s youngest son would have been 11 years old this year if he wasn’t shot down at school. Tragically, he was killed five years ago in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. She thought she could never forgive the gunman, until she saw a message scrawled by her son on the kitchen chalkboard. Inspired by the message, the mother found peace—and a mission.
On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, gunned down the then 6-year-old Jesse, as well as 19 other children, and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, before turning the gun on himself.
Jesse’s mother, Scarlett Lewis, thought she could never forgive the gunman, Lanza, till one day when she returned home to choose clothes for her son’s funeral.
Lewis stopped dead in her tracks when she saw three words scrawled by Jesse on a chalkboard in the kitchen. “Nurturing Healing Love,” it read.
Jesse wrote the words before he left for school on that fateful day.
Speaking to The Hartford Courant, Lewis said, “I feel he was sending us a message of comfort as well as inspiration on how to live our lives with him gone.”
She started researching and found that the three words defined “compassion” across all cultures.
“I believe that if the shooter had been able to give and receive nurturing, healing love, the tragedy never would have happened,” Lewis wrote on a GoFundMe blog.
Through the simple message “Nurturing Healing Love,” Lewis was able to let go of anger and resentment by choosing love and forgiveness.
Choosing love over hatred, Lewis said she has forgiven Lanza, as he “was not born a mass murderer.”
“He wasn’t given the kindness, caring, and concern that he needed,” Lewis told TODAY.
Galvanized by Jesse’s message, Lewis decided to spend the rest of her life introducing it in schools.
She founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to develop and provide a free social and emotional learning program, or SEL. The program teaches children to manage their emotions, cultivate empathy, and develop positive relationships.
“If this program had existed when Adam Lanza was a young child, it would have saved my son’s life and it would have saved Adam Lanza’s life,” she said.
The discovery of Jesse’s message—“Nurturing Healing Love”—changed Lewis’s life forever. Without a doubt, if everyone chooses love over hatred and forgiveness over resentment, it’ll make the world a better place.
“We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we respond — and we can always respond with love,” Lewis said.
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