It was an unbelievably peaceful night. As I settled into the chair my husband Carl had strategically placed for me on our back patio, I marveled at how clear it was for stargazing. Wrapped in our heaviest coats and donning thick gloves to keep out the crisp, sharp cold, we settled in for what turned out to be a spectacular show. That evening, 12/13/12, the Geminid meteor shower did not disappoint, as tiny flashes of light, shooting stars, exploded across the sky.
I’m not one for remembering dates, and sometimes details even escape me, but that night 3 years ago is etched into my soul. It was not just the beauty and peace of the evening that solidified the memory into my being, but rather the contrasting horror that took place the following day just 24 miles west of our home.
Why Would Someone Do This?
Carl and I were both working from home at the time, and as was his routine, on that Friday afternoon he turned on CNN as a backdrop to his lunch break. Not a fan of the sensationalism of news programs, I try to avoid them whenever possible, and respecting my sensitive nature Carl often turns the channel when something disturbing comes on. However, on the afternoon of 12/14/12, Carl had left the kitchen momentarily to check on an email, as I headed to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. Standing there alone by the teakettle, I heard a reporter exclaiming that a gunman had fired shots at Sandy Hook Elementary and multiple casualties were expected.
My legs went numb and I carried myself to the closest couch in the living room nearby. When Carl came upstairs he found me in tears, mumbling, “I don’t understand. Why would someone do this? They are just little kids. What is going on?” We held each other as we mourned the senseless loss.
They Were Our Children
In a panic, I struggled to remember if we knew anyone with young children living in the Newtown/Sandy Hook area, as if that fact mattered. It really didn’t. Even though we didn’t know any of the victims personally, the tragic loss was profoundly painful for the state of Connecticut and the entire nation.
A Missed Opportunity for Change
The days following the event, like many other people, I struggled to make sense of it all. I read everything I could with this nagging need for closure. Somehow, I felt that if I could just understand why it happened, I could find a little peace. I thought for sure the tragedy would pave the way for gun reform, that it would at least lead to a ban on high-powered assault rifles. Or, perhaps that the growing problem of mental illness in our country would be brought to light. I was comforted temporarily by those hopes. Sadly, as we all know, those problems have only grown worse.
Teachers Are Heroes
Still, there was a tiny silver lining. There was an outpouring of love and support from around the country toward the families of the victims. And, the nation was inspired by the heroic actions of Victoria Soto, Dawn Hochsprung and others, therefore giving teachers a well-deserved spotlight for how selfless and dedicated they are to their students.
These small positives can’t possibly compensate for the tremendous pain and suffering of losing so many young, hopeful lives. Yet, as I reflect back to watching those shooting stars 3 years ago, losing light as they burned across the sky, I wonder if their glimmer was quickly replaced by 26 bright, shining spirits.