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)
I just want to say how sorry I am about what happened at Sandy hook elementary school and the entire community of of Newtown, Conn. It is truly unimaginable! We as a nation cry with you!! My heart is heavy, my tears are many …..God Bless you All!
Nora that was beautifully expressed, I am wipeing the tears from my eyes as I type.
God Bless you, Conor and Rick and all of Newtown, especially the victims and their families. Please know that we are all with you and surrounding you with light and love.
i have no words. i am a long islander and am very familiar with your town. the tears just keep flowing. my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
A Prayer To The Holy Innocents
Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.
Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.
Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.
Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.
Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.
Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God’s love forever.
…This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
I look forward to your posts every week, and not because I have a knack for being artistic, or for creating beautiful home adornments, but because I know you, and your personality, and I always know that at the end of every post I get a warm feeling about living in Connecticut and especially in Newtown. I needed that more than ever this week….. Wish your family all the best.
p.s. James, Thomas and Steven got the same hug, and I do believe they were fine with it.
You’ve penned a very moving and poignant soliloquy, a paean to your beloved community and, concurrently, a eulogy to innocence lost in the aftermath of this tragic event. Your words are a salve to a wounded populace, a gift to those who value goodness and grace who are writhing in pain and disbelief. Like so much of what you do, it’s beautifully and touchingly crafted. Bless you for your insight and warmth at a time when your friends and neighbors most yearn for it.
Peace and love,
My friend, how beautiful & eloquent your eugoly was to your beloved friends and dear community of Newtown.
Blessings to you, your community and friends. May peace finds it’s way back into your hearts….
Robin, Stu & Sarah
You know, while it was all happening, I blocked it out, I turned off the TV for the weekend, on the efforts of protecting my little Isabelle! It was not till Monday when she went back to school that I caught up to this nightmare, this year has brought many events that carried sadness into our lives but none as insane as this one.
To all parents, who know their children have issues, please seek help and keep guns away from them! In America the right to carry arms has done nothing but harm! You do not see mass shootings as wide spread in any other civilized country as we do here. Maybe we do not deserve the right to arms! I pray that these innocent lives were not taken in vain. thanks
Thanks Nora for writing your post in the midst of this tragedy. Love always to you and yours.
We haven’t spoken in 15 years but our families once took an amazing journey together that had its scarey moments but forever changed our lives, for the better.
Now your community is on a very painful, entirely unfair, journey. It’s impossible to imagine a silver lining worthy of this pain. But we are glad to have discovered this blog and relieved to know that you and your family are safe. Keeping on hugging that teenager and know that you and your neighbors are in our prayers.
…I am a faithful reader and I had to come out of the woodwork to tell you how very sorry I am for such a tragedy to have happened. There are no words to convey the depth of the sorrow and heartbreak that we feel for the town’s people, the rescue units and the family and friends of the precious and heroic victims. There simply are no words.
…Please know that we are praying for you all there in Newtown. Our thoughts never stray far, if at all, from your town and its people. God be with you now and always.
…Blessings to you.