On 7th Mother's Day Since Son’s Murder, Sandy Hook Mom Is Determined to Prevent Future Shootings

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On 7th Mother’s Day Since Son’s Murder, Sandy Hook Mom Is Determined to Prevent Future Shootings

“My Mom is special because she senz me to scol.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="That’s what my six-year-old son, Dylan, wrote to me for Mother’s Day 2012, below a picture of purple and blue stick figures symbolizing me and him beneath a bright yellow sun. In small letters beneath, an adult has corrected his two spelling errors. I’ll never know if the writing was from his first grade teacher or his special education assistant, as both of them were killed alongside Dylan and 19 of his classmates and four other educators later that year at Sandy Hook Elementary School.” data-reactid=”32″>That’s what my six-year-old son, Dylan, wrote to me for Mother’s Day 2012, below a picture of purple and blue stick figures symbolizing me and him beneath a bright yellow sun. In small letters beneath, an adult has corrected his two spelling errors. I’ll never know if the writing was from his first grade teacher or his special education assistant, as both of them were killed alongside Dylan and 19 of his classmates and four other educators later that year at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

This will be my seventh Mother’s Day without Dylan. Yet another Mother’s Day where I hug my surviving son tightly, trying to infuse the love I have for both my children into one. And yet another day where I continue my daily ritual of kissing Dylan’s urn every morning and night, telling my beautiful baby boy how much I love and miss him.

The pain of losing a child does not dissipate with time. Nor does the trauma for those that survive. The ripple effects of mass shootings pervade the entire community, ever present, even when people may prefer to pretend nothing happened and that everyone has “moved on.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="I am not alone in my pain. Each year, there are tens of thousands of mothers across the country that join the group of mothers like me. Just this week, after the shooting at STEM Highlands Ranch school in Colorado, there is one more mother who will share the agonizing experience of this holiday without her son. It never ends.” data-reactid=”35″>I am not alone in my pain. Each year, there are tens of thousands of mothers across the country that join the group of mothers like me. Just this week, after the shooting at STEM Highlands Ranch school in Colorado, there is one more mother who will share the agonizing experience of this holiday without her son. It never ends.

But it can.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="What happened at Sandy Hook was preventable. Having studied other school shootings, mass shootings, and suicides, I know that the majority of them were also preventable. Being able to recognize at-risk behaviors, signs, and signals, also known as “leakage,” are critical to intervention and prevention.” data-reactid=”37″>What happened at Sandy Hook was preventable. Having studied other school shootings, mass shootings, and suicides, I know that the majority of them were also preventable. Being able to recognize at-risk behaviors, signs, and signals, also known as “leakage,” are critical to intervention and prevention.

Nicole Hockley, holding a photo of son Dylan | Eric Ogden/TrunkNicole Hockley, holding a photo of son Dylan | Eric Ogden/Trunk

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Nicole Hockley, holding a photo of son Dylan | Eric Ogden/Trunk

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: Sandy Hook Mom Nicole Hockley Is One of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World: ‘Gun Violence Is Preventable’” data-reactid=”58″>RELATED: Sandy Hook Mom Nicole Hockley Is One of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World: ‘Gun Violence Is Preventable’

Research shows 80% of school shooters tell at least one person before they commit their act and 70% of suicide victims also give off warning signs. Through training to recognize and take these signs seriously and act immediately to report them with proven tools, the number of tragedies could be severely reduced.

That’s why I helped launch Sandy Hook Promise — to take on the mission of ending school shootings and their devastating effects by training youth and adults to prevent them, not endure them. We can end these tragedies and protect our children, our schools and our communities by recognizing the signs of someone who needs help and taking action.

I know this is true because of the intervention stories I hear every week from thousands of schools nationwide using our programs and anonymous reporting system. More moms will be hugging their children this Mother’s Day because millions of people knew when and how to speak up and get help. That means the world to me.

Dylan Hockley | CourtesyDylan Hockley | Courtesy

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Dylan Hockley | Courtesy
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: Return to Newtown: How the Sandy Hook Victims Live on in the Hearts and Work of Their Families” data-reactid=”84″>RELATED: Return to Newtown: How the Sandy Hook Victims Live on in the Hearts and Work of Their Families

I will never stop missing Dylan, his sweet voice, his big blue eyes and his love of deep, long cuddles. As I watch his big brother grow taller than me, I imagine what Dylan would look like now and what he would be doing. Would he still like repeatedly watching Disney movies? Would six squares of a Hershey’s chocolate bar still be his favorite after-dinner treat? Would he still love looking at the moon each night? He would be in 7th grade now — would he still enjoy school? What would he think when he heard the news of school shootings today? Would he be scared or would he think, like so many families do, that it would never happen at his school?

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="RELATED: PSA From Sandy Hook Parents Spotlights Warning Signs of Potential School Shooters” data-reactid=”86″>RELATED: PSA From Sandy Hook Parents Spotlights Warning Signs of Potential School Shooters

When I hear the news of another active shooting, my entire body tenses and my heart starts to hurt. When it’s over, I wait to hear the names of the dead and injured; I wait to hear of the warning signs that were given off prior and (often) ignored. While my heart breaks for the victims and their families, my soul aches for our country as we collectively endure yet another tragedy that could have been prevented.

I know my work with Sandy Hook Promise has saved countless moms from this excruciating pain. But I never would have chosen this life. If I could change history, I would want nothing more than to spend this Mother’s Day reading cards and being with both of my boys.

Saving other families is the only way I can think to honor my beloved Dylan.

That’s the gift I want to give mothers everywhere this Sunday — the comfort of knowing that we are working tirelessly every day to ensure their kids are safe from school shootings. I never want another mom to send their child to school in the morning, only for them never to return.