Hello my dear readers. I write today’s posting with a very heavy heart. Here I sit staring at my monitor, writing, re-writing, staring some more, and wondering if this 245-year old country house has ever been hit with such profound sadness – maybe, maybe not – maybe not since the Revolutionary War.
I think I’m going to start by stating that I love my town of Newtown, Connecticut. We moved here 20 years ago this week. I remember it was right before Christmas, because the former owner of our first house – a sweet little 1940 Tudor – taped a vintage illustration of Santa on the refrigerator. That new home truly felt like the most wonderful Christmas present ever. Other than falling in love with the cottage-like charm of the house and the natural beauty that surrounded it, we immediately were drawn to the warmth and friendliness of our new hometown – a real sense of community. As sort-of a newlywed couple, we had finally found “home”.
All these years, it’s been such a good feeling to say “hi” to Joe at the hardware store – and with a big smile Joe would always say “Hi Nora!” back – to Pat at the bank, who always greets us with her gorgeous smiling face until this weekend when that face looked at my husband Rick’s face, and both faces just started to cry.
Where so innocently on Friday morning, my son Conor called me at home, to ask me to run over to the high school with the sodas he forgot to bring in that morning for a school holiday party. It was 9:30 that morning when I bopped by the security guard with a singsong “good morning” and wished all the ladies in the main office “a great day”. As usual, I had an arm-long list of “to-dos” and this soda run was supposed to be the first of many stops. The high school is in the Sandy Hook part of Newtown, about a mile or so from the elementary school. Leaving Sandy Hook, I stopped at the quiet traffic light in the center of the village, when 2 Newtown police cars sped before me in full emergency mode – up the hill toward the elementary school. Three big black SUV’s with interior flashing lights were to follow. Not knowing where they were headed or what was going on – I kept on going. Within a half hour, we were advised that all our schools were in “lock-down”.
And so our new surreal reality began for us here in Newtown. Info coming in through phone calls, facebook, and the TV – this just can’t be happening. I couldn’t believe my ears or my eyes. Nope, this could not be happening. Not in my beloved Newtown.
We are all numb. Our family is heartbroken. Our hearts break for our fellow Newtowners who lost a loved one. The thought of such a horrendous and unspeakable act on our children and teachers is truly unbearable. This horrible violation on our community – a town filled with so much love and good will – is truly a tragedy. Every time I drive by the makeshift signs and memorials all over town, the tears start all over again. Our friends Sandy and Ryan invited Conor to join them in visiting one such memorial – the one right at the traffic light where I stopped at Friday morning. Off Conor went with a small bouquet that was quickly made up of what I had on hand – a small cut bunch of rosemary for remembrance, wound with a Sandy Hook Jolly Green Giant kind of a bright green ribbon, and anchored with a small gold heart and a trumpeting angel bearing a sash of peace. Conor said it needed a flower, so the good ol’ flowering azalea topiaries (that have been in bloom since September!) provided a perfectly delicate bright pink bloom to my little makeshift offering.
For me, that defining moment, that will probably never leave my mind’s eye is the happy little soda run that took me to the traffic light in Sandy Hook Center right at the start of what would change Newtown and our lives forever. I know we’ll never be the same.
All I can say is that on Friday afternoon when Conor got off the bus and came through the door, I burst into tears, hugged him and held him for what I think was probably a long time for a teenager. But you know what? He was fine with that. And just so you know, we’re going to keep on hugging him, whether he likes it or not!
I want to thank all our friends and families who called, texted, e-mailed, or facebook messaged us with your heartfelt thoughts and wishes. Even our favorite Irish lass at The Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut called us Saturday morning “to check on the Murphy’s from Newtown”! I feel that in many ways the worst brings out the best in most people. And this weekend of connecting, and re-connecting, has truly been a gift. Thank you.
“God bless us, every one!” – Tiny Tim from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ (1843)