Few tragedies have rattled America quite like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Though the horrific event happened five years ago, many of the victims’ families still bear very fresh scars from that fateful day.
But amidst the acts of evil that have plagued our nation in recent years, there have consistently been rays of hope in the darkness. From the selfless heroes in Las Vegas to the prayerful strangers in Orlando, and angels in Target parking lots in Newtown, Connecticut, our country has continued to slay terrorism with kindness.
In the middle of the tragedy and heartbreak, these acts of pure selflessness from total strangers are the hope we cling to for a better world. For Tina Hassinger, she will never forget the woman in the Target parking lot who went above and beyond to comfort her the day she found out about the Sandy Hook shooting, where her mom was the principal.
Though she lost her mother day, Tina will never forget the compassion shown to her by this sweet woman. Even five years later, she remembers it as a “bright spot in my memory of that dark day.”
Read Tina’s powerful thank you letter “To the woman in the Target parking lot, five years later” that has now touched thousands of hearts across the web:
“To the woman in the Target parking lot, five years later:
It was mid-morning, maybe 10:00. My older boys were at school, and I was shopping with my younger children. Charlie was two years old, Alyson just five months.
We were in the dairy aisle, just about ready to check out when my phone rang. It was my sister calling to tell me there’d been a shooting at Sandy Hook, the elementary school where my mom was the principal.
I didn’t know yet that she had been killed.
I headed toward the exit of the store, abandoning a cart full of diapers and Goldfish crackers in front of the doors. I gathered the kids and rushed out of the store. Was it then that you noticed me?
I don’t remember what I did when I got outside, but I know that’s when you approached me. Was I standing still, dazed? Was I frantic? I don’t remember.
My memory of what happened over the next several hours is patchy. Some details are vividly clear. Other parts I don’t recall at all.
It was unseasonably warm for mid-December. Were we standing just outside store? Or had I made it into the parking lot?
You told me to sit down. Maybe I was pale, shock having drained the color from my face? I must have been holding Alyson’s infant carrier. Was I also carrying Charlie? Holding his hand?
I told you there’d been at shooting at my mom’s school. I think you asked me something then, but I don’t remember what. You said something in attempt at reassurance. But again, I can’t recall what it was.
I stood to head toward my car and you did something to help. What was it? Did you carry Alyson in her carrier? Or did you hold Charlie’s hand as you walked us to the car?
You asked if I was okay to drive and offered to follow me home, to make sure we got there safely. I think I told you no, that it really wasn’t necessary. But you insisted.
When we got to my house, I don’t think we spoke again. Did I wave my thanks as you drove off? Or did you wait in your car to watch as we disappeared inside?
I don’t remember your face. And I never asked your name. But I remember your kindness, five years later.
I’ve recounted the story of your help and concern that day many times. I have remembered your kindness over and over again.
My mom used to say, “Be nice to each other. It’s really all that matters.” I don’t know you, but our brief encounter indicates you truly embody that philosophy.
Helping a stranger in distress came naturally to you, and I am sincerely grateful for your actions. Your compassion is a bright spot in my memory of that dark day.
To the woman in the Target parking lot, I want to say thank you, five years later.”
Evil will forever be a present force in our world, and pain its companion, but it is people like this that remind us that goodness always wins. Like this beautiful soul in the Target parking lot, may we continue to be a society that bravely shines light in the darkness.