Mourning with and for Newtown

I didn’t want to write about this.

The interwebs don’t need yet another blogger telling everyone what they think about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. What could I possibly say that someone else hasn’t already said? Truth be told, I’m still struggling to process my emotions; to come to grips with them so I can help my kids process their own. In the end, I decided I had to say something if for no other reason but a selfish one: sometimes I just have to allow my mind and heart to, as Billy Coffey says, bleed onto the page or I find myself drowning in my own thoughts.

As I write this, it’s Tuesday morning December 18, 2012. I’ve purposely avoided the news and the internet since Friday afternoon. Horrible things happens every minute of every day, but this? The news of this absolutely sucker punched me. I don’t know if this will be one of those events where you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard about it, but it feels that way now.

Me? I was in the parking lot of a Best Buy. When I was pulling into a space, I caught “more from Newtown, Connecticut as details become available”. I had no clue what the anchor was talking about, but she sounded ominous. Rather than waiting through the commercial break, I went into the store to do some Christmas shopping. I remember snapping a picture of a DVD thinking I would post it on Twitter along with a snarky remark. I don’t even remember what the DVD or comment was now. I only remember thinking that if something really horrible had happened in Connecticut, maybe sending snarky tweets about B movies was an incredibly insensitive thing to do. Ah, that small, still voice–this time I didn’t ignore it.

Once back in my car, I heard the anchor say, “Twenty-five confirmed dead, eighteen of them children.” I put the car back in park and just sat there in that parking lot for what seemed like a very long time. Long enough for an updated body count. Twenty children confirmed dead. Two had died at a local hospital. As I listened to the news I began to get a sketchy picture of what had happened. A man with a gun had entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting. The majority of his victims were believed to be kindergartners.


My first thoughts were, “WHO DOES THAT? Who goes on a shooting rampage where his intended victims are SIX-YEAR OLDS? WHY? SWEET JESUS, WHY?

It was just too much. Too horrible to fathom. I wanted to turn it off. Make them stop telling me about it. I hit the “scan” button on my radio. It stopped at MSNBC. That’s when that feeling of anguish and disbelief turned to anger. A reporter was attempting to interview surviving children as they were being lead away from the school.

That’s when I turned off the news and decided to stay off of the Internet.

That evening, we watched television, but only shows which we had previously recorded on the DVR. What happened in Newtown was still constantly on my mind–the town in my prayers–I just couldn’t sit through hours of news coverage, nor was I prepared to answers any questions from my kids.

After a few hours of tossing and turning in my bed Friday night, I grabbed a pillow and a blanket and headed for the couch. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but on this night I elected to forego my usual late night news viewing in favor of yet another pre-recorded show. As misfortune would have it, the television in the den was tuned to a news station. Before I was able to find a recorded show, I saw Geraldo Rivera standing in front of what should have been an abandoned hill in what is normally a sleepy little town. He was rehashing the events of the day. The camera cuts away to a car pulling away from the scene. It zooms in tight on a distraught woman in the passenger seat shielding her eyes from the bright lights of the cameras. My heart sank even deeper. I felt ashamed. It was less like news coverage, much more like voyeurism feeding off the pain of this heartbroken community.

Yesterday, I once again attempted to listen to the news on my radio while running errands. I heard more about the shooter, pro and con arguments for stricter gun laws, opinions about the lack of adequate mental health care in this country–all the predictable discussions that arise from these all too common mass killings.

And then I heard about Vicky Soto. The 27 year old teacher who died while attempting to shield her students from the gunfire. Once again, I was sitting in a parking lot. I broke down. I sat in that parking lot and wept for a long time.

I still can’t watch the news. I know there were many more heroes on that day, and I fully intend on reading their stories. Honoring them and the victims of this senseless act seems like the right thing to do.

But for now–for me–I feel a greater need to simply give the community of Newtown one less prying eye, one less unsolicited opinion. I offer instead the only thing I can give them.

My prayers and my tears.

Of these, there seems to be an endless supply.


If you’ve managed to read through this entire post, thank you indulging my need to get these thoughts down. I saw this posted on Facebook the other day. I thought it was appropriate.

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don’t mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven’s silence

Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy

Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

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