Friday morning was a pretty normal day. I was at work, typing agendas and posting meeting information packets for Commissioners. This is what I do most Fridays. This was not to be like most Fridays, however.
An email popped up on my screen from The Simsbury Patch–Breaking News. A shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooter dead, 3 injured. This couldn’t be.
I searched online for a legitimate account of what had happened, some more reputable source to back up this claim. I didn’t really want to know, but if only 3 people were injured–the worst a shot in the foot–it sounded like a story of heroism, a huge disaster averted. What unfolded in the next few hours, however, was far from the scene originally portrayed in the breaking news report.
Many remember where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001–how they learned of the news and how distracted they were that day. December 14, 2012 will hold the same place in my memory. For while many senseless acts of violence occur throughout the world every day, this was too close to home, too hard to ignore–and too easy to envision my own Kindergartner and second-grader as participants in this horrific scene, despite my desire not to.
27 dead. 18 elementary school children. Over and over again the numbers came in, over and over again agreeing. So many young lives lost–so many opportunities for the future missed–so much heartache. On my drive home, the numbers altered slightly–18 children died on the scene, 2 later in the hospital, and a total of 6 adults, plus the shooter–and at a secondary site, the mother of the shooter, also dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Words that do not belong only a week and a half before Christmas. Words that should never be used in reference to an elementary school. Words that cannot be erased from my memory. Dead. Dead. Dead.
Like many that evening, I could not wait to get home and wrap my children in my arms and hold on tightly. Protect them from a world none of us can possibly comprehend. They don’t know why I was so happy to see them that night. They don’t understand why suddenly I couldn’t get enough of them, despite their tantrums and petty fights with each other, stubborn tears and messy ways. And in an attempt to shield their innocence, I did not tell them. I simply was doing my best to appreciate what I have, knowing others that night would go back to empty homes with only unanswerable questions in their heads and broken hearts. Unbearable silence. Presents that will never be opened. Mourning futures that will never be.
I cried most of my drive home. I cried the next morning. I was on the verge of tears much of last night. The tears won’t bring anyone back, won’t change anything, but I can’t help it–my heart hurts for these little angels. I’d like to believe that everything happens for a reason, but it is too hard to see reason this close to tragedy. They must have accomplished all they needed to have in this life, but it’s difficult to let go when the lives are so short. It all seems so senseless.
Life will never be the same. Even though I am not directly affected, the cut is deep and it’s painful all the same. May these souls find peace. May those left behind find the strength to carry on. May they be healed and whole again. Let them understand that we all mourn with them, we all are here for them, and they are not alone. Nobody should be alone right now.
WAYS TO HELP:
- Send cards, teddy bears, etc. to: Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickenson Drive, Sandy Hook, CT 06482
- HopeMob has a fundraiser going for the Newtown community: http://hopemob.org/s/17x-let-s-stand-with-the-students-families-of-sandy-hook-elementary-school-newtown-ct\
- United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank have set up the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Checks can be mailed to: Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470, or you can donate online: https://newtown.uwwesternct.org
- Former Sandy Hook student Ryan Kraft set up a fund to go to Sandy Hook’s PTSA organization: http://www.crowdrise.com/SHSRelief
- The University of Connecticut has set up The Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Connecticut, which will cover costs for Sandy Hook School students, survivor siblings, and dependents of teachers who were lost in the shooting who choose to attend UCONN in the future. More information can be found on The University of Connecticut Foundation website.