The last morning Alissa Parker had with her daughter, Emilie, 6, they admired the flowers painted on the little girl's bedroom wall. Emilie pointed joyously to the pink flowers with black centers and black flowers with pink centers. She'd figured out that things connected in myriad ways, and it excited her.
A few hours later, on Dec. 14, 2012, a lone gunman killed six adults and 20 children — including Emilie — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Parker has been pondering and noticing how connections build and strengthen ever since: Connections between parents who lost their children that day, connections that prompted strangers to write thousands of letters of comfort to families reeling with loss, connections that have created programs and playgrounds in honor of those who died. She even formed a connection with the gunman's father.Parker has also written a book, An Unseen Angel, released this month by Shadow Mountain Publishing. In it, she recounts experiences that prove to her that God can use even the worst actions of humankind to set free the very best of humanity.
When she died, I remember I turned to Robbie and said, “Is this all true? Are all the things that we believe true?” It wasn’t even so much that I was doubting it, it was more the fact that I needed to know. It wasn’t enough to have the faith I had had before. I needed to know. Even though in that moment I couldn’t have that definitely answered for me, I had faith in the process. And so I went to Heavenly Father with that faith and that experience and that relationship from my life and was able to apply it until I was able to gain the knowledge that I needed to know where she was and to know it was all true, that He was always there. I had an amazing father, Douglas Cottle, who taught me what that relationship looks like and I was able to model that with the relationship with my Heavenly Father.