Sandy Hook Mom Puts Up First Christmas Tree Since Losing Her Son (VIDEO)

Nicole Hockley's 6-year-old son Dylan was gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, three years ago today. This year is the first she'll be able to put up a Christmas tree since the tragedy.

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When the Sandy Hook shooting happened, the entire world mourned with those parents. The ones who dropped their precious babies off for school in the morning thinking they were safe, only to have them brutally murdered. It's unthinkable.

But for mothers everywhere, the loss felt a bit more intimate. As I wrapped my own baby's Christmas gifts, sobbing and watching the wall-to-wall news coverage of the murders, I had flashes of images of little Christmas gifts stashed all over those kids' houses. Presents bought with love that would never be unwrapped.

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I thought about chipped glitter nail polish and shoes filled with sand from the playground and little lunches packed with care that would never make it to the lunchroom. How would those parents possibly go on? How could they ever recover from the unfathomable loss?

Many Sandy Hook parents, like Nicole, have become activists -- evangelists, really -- for increased school safety measures. It's easy to understand why they would want to make something meaningful come out of such a senseless tragedy. Nicole cofounded Sandy Hook Promise to help prevent future school gun violence.

As for Nicole and her family, this year they're going to put up their first Christmas tree without little Dylan. But she can't go back through the old ornaments. Instead, she's going to get together with friends and make all new ones.

Again, the mother in me imagines boxes tucked away filled with homemade handprint ornaments and little aluminum foil bells and candy canes painted with chubby baby fingers. You can't blame Nicole for not being able to look at those just yet.

"All of our ornaments were personal," Nicole told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield.

She adds that the toughest part is seeing kids the age that Dylan should be now -- 9 years old.

"I can picture Dylan running through the halls and that's hard," Nicole says.

With the new Christmas tree ornaments, Nicole, her husband, and her son Jake, who was an 8-year-old in fourth grade at Sandy Hook when the shooting occurred, are struggling to make new memories and a new life for themselves -- without Dylan.

Mothers everywhere suffer with Nicole and the other families of the Sandy Hook victims. May they all have just a little peace over the holidays.

Here's more from Nicole on her loss and her fight to carry on.

 

Image via Fox 2 Now

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