Thinking about Newtown

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I didn’t know Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, who after hearing the first gunshots, apparently turned on the public address system in her office to try and warn her teachers of the impending danger coming their way and then ran toward the shooter in an effort to subdue him before being shot and killed.
But I wish that I had.
I didn’t know Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, who was in a meeting with principal Hochsprung and who also ran at the gunman trying to stop him before being shot and killed.
But I wish that I had.
I didn’t know Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher who made sure that each and every one of her students were safely hidden away from danger in closets and cabinets when the gunman appeared at her classroom door, telling him that her kids were all down in the gym before she was shot and killed.
But I wish that I had.
I didn’t know teachers Rachel D’Avino or Anne Marie Murphy or Lauren Rousseau, who all died trying to protect their students from the attacker’s gunfire.
But I wish that I had.
I didn’t know 6-year old Jack Pinto, who was a huge New York football Giants fan, or 6-year old Emilie Parker, who was learning how to speak Portuguese from her father. I didn’t know 7-year old Chase Kowalski, who had recently won his first mini-triathlon or 6-year old Jesse Lewis, who was starting to learn how to ride horses or 6-year old Ana Marquez-Greene, a budding singer.
I didn’t know 6-year old Noah Pozner, a “smart and lively kid” according to his uncle or 6-year old Charlotte Bacon, who, according to her uncle, “could light up the room” or 6-year old Olivia Engel, who was going to make a gingerbread house when she came home from school that day.
I didn’t know, Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay or Grace McConnell, all just seven years old, or Dylan Hockley, Madeline Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, James Mattioli, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Alison Wyatt or Benjamin Wheeler, who were all only 6.
But I wish that I had.
In a sense, now, however, I know them all because of a sad, senseless act of violence that took place on Friday morning in Newtown that continues to defy the imagination. What would cause someone to do something so evil? What would drive someone to seek terrible revenge against innocent, unknowing children? What would make someone become violent to the point of mass murder?
We just don’t know.
The shock of this terrible tragedy is not going away any time soon, if ever. Already, there have been tears of grief, tears of anger and tears of heartfelt sadness. And there will be a lot more. A lot more. In the coming days, there will be funerals, memorial services and that tidal wave of sorrow will hit us all again, square in the gut like it did on Friday when the news first started coming from the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And it’s going to hurt.
In the coming days, we will hear more stories. Heartwarming stories. Stories of love. Stories of life. Stories that, for a moment, might make us smile but will probably make us cry over and over again. The families of the victims will never fully heal from this tragedy but eventually, they will move forward because that’s all they can do. And across the state, across the country and across the world, we will pray for each and every one of those families.
Because that’s all we can do is pray. We can’t take away the families’ pain. We can’t take away their sorrow. They can’t say we know how it feels because we don’t know. We have no clue. But we can be there, to lend a shoulder, to whisper encouraging words, to do whatever we can to try and numb that pain, to ease that sorrow.
I didn’t know Dawn Hochsprung or Mary Sherlach or Victoria Soto or any of the other 23 innocent victims that lost their lives Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary.
But I wish that I had.

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