Late Monday I shared a posting that took a long time to compose and took a lot out of me. I was hoping it would be a cathartic moment. And as much as I wish it were, it wasn’t. I was so hoping it would make me feel better – it didn’t. I guess I was hoping that if I wrote it down, it would help me move forward.
Since last Friday, I can’t seem to get out of my own way. I‘d like to think I was stronger than this – much more resilient. The last five days have felt like a solid month. Let me introduce you to my new best friends that helped me deal this past weekend: caffeine, sugar, and pajamas. The comforting pj’s stuck around a lot longer than I would have liked on Monday – but thankfully they’re in the wash now and I’m back to my everyday get up. Unfortunately, the caffeine and sugar – preferably chocolate – is still my mainstay. Hopefully this too shall pass.
Defining moment #1 – It’s 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, and it was time for Conor to go back to school. He was not sold on the idea of going back. Boy, it would be so much easier not to have to deal with all this (so know the feeling). I listened patiently to his reasoning, and then I offered him something to think about. I told him that we’re all in this together – he, we, his friends, his friends’ families, the whole school, town and beyond. I told him that we’ve got to stick together and be there for each other no matter what. And then from my brain’s archive of tried and true sayings came: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. (I don’t know where that came from, since I was obviously not modeling that motto.) But, I guess my argument (or motivational speech) worked, with the exception of making the bus. Quickly grabbing a coat to cover up my beloved pj’s, we drove to the High School together. Which in retrospect, I’m glad he missed the bus; we needed to meet the onslaught of media together (I had forgotten about them). All this, I thought, just to film school buses and distraught parents and teens driving into the school driveway. I can’t imagine what these traumatized – and hormonal – kids are thinking and feeling. I know what I was feeling – holding it together until he got out of the car – and then bursting into tears as I drove away. I hope they got a good shot of that. And as I drove back home – this scenario played out throughout the center of town – the village, the schools, and the church of St.Rose of Lima readying for the first of 2 funerals that day.
Defining moment #2 – When I got back home, I attempted to catch up on my e-mails (which of course was not part of my drill this weekend). Lots of loving messages from so many friends – and one of them came with a twist. “It is sad that your lovely little town will forever have a black mark in history”. Honestly, and quite sadly, this thought had crossed my mind way more than once, and has contributed to my state of mind. But to actually see it written and to read it – got my attention and stirred something deep inside of me. (And to my friend who wrote it – I thank you.)
Defining moment #3 – It’s 11 a.m. and I’m sort of feeling a little better for the moment after a much needed haircut. As I was about to leave, I was told that there was a big back up in the center of town, and that it was pretty much impassible. Now what? I thought. Well, since that was the direction I needed to go, I hung back for a few minutes for it to hopefully pass. And it did – right before me. With the magnitude of a Presidential motorcade – a brigade of police officers – Newtown, State, and other local towns – with lights flashing on motorcycles, cars and vans – escorted the funeral procession of six-year old James. A woman stepped outside along side of me. Without thinking, we put an arm around each other’s shoulders, and just start to cry. As the larger cars carrying James’ family slowly drove by – a woman sitting by the window seat noticed us and gently waved. As a knee-jerk reaction, we both simultaneously put our free hands high up into the air, and kept them there until the entire procession had passed. The two of us must have been quite the pathetic sight, but this was our heartfelt and spontaneous gesture of love, respect and just know we’re with you. When it was over, I introduced myself to this woman I was holding, and she to me. It turns out that she was one of the owners of the hair salon and just like me; she had a profound feeling of sorrow and helplessness. And again, just like me, we shared our love of our beautiful community.
All I know is that by the time I got home, I was a woman on a mission. But I’m not quite sure what the mission is. These 3 defining moments came consecutively yesterday morning. It may just be a coincidence. But as my dear friend, Aida, always reminds me – Coincidence is just another word for God.
This tragedy has re-affirmed my love of family, town, and home – very much so. Home, sweet home, was and is our safe haven – our refuge.
Through unthinkable tragedy, Newtown has become a very unique place on this Earth – the eyes and hearts of the whole world is on us and most importantly with us. Wow. Just the thought of millions of people sending us their deeply heartfelt wishes, and tons and tons of love is just mind-boggling to me. How do we take all this love – all this unbelievably positive energy – and harness it – shape it – and build on it?
Newtown has long been a beautiful, loving, and peaceful place on earth before Friday morning. How can all the good be now null and void? As our heartbroken fellow Newtowner, Robbie Parker, dad to 6-year old Emilie said so eloquently on Saturday – “as we move from what happened here – let us not turn this into something that defines us – but something that inspires us to be better…”
Robbie inspired me. My Tuesday morning inspired me. I truly believe that goodness and love does conquer all – even a horrible black mark. I know I’ve got to do something that makes a difference.
Here in lies the mission.