Newtown: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

4 years ago

I'm having a hard time getting back to life: attending multiple wakes and funerals for dead 7 year olds and dead moms tend to do that. Harsh words, but it's a harsh world we're left with here in Newtown.

I'm left speechless. And ambitionless. And aimless. And well, just tired.

I sleep a lot these days – soundly, like when I was pregnant and just need to shut my eyes for 10 minutes then zonk out into a deadman's sleep .... oops. Probably shouldn't say that. There's lots of things I can't say anymore, and even more I can't hear.

Thoughtful emails, texts and calls from colleagues that hope I wasn't affected directly by the tragedy in Newtown. Folks who only know me virtually, and only know Newtown from the news.

They don't know that our high schoolers taught many of the dead kids to swim, cheering and coaching these little guys and sneaking them candy for breakfast. That our boy has multiple friends with dead siblings. That my college kid, so far from home, desperately searched for news about special needs kids she mentored, families she knows and loves. And that Kid3, a self-assured, strong, brilliant sophomore in high school, sleeps in our bed, so very, very sad and confused, unable to articulate why.

Every Newtown household knows somebody. If we didn't coach, teach, babysit, carpool, play, or clip out articles from the Bee, our hometown weekly, about the successes and accomplishments of these families and leave them gingerly in a mailbox or under a windshield wiper, then our friends and neighbors did. It's just that kind of town. Or it was.

The bottom line is: we are not directly affected. Unless you were one of the 28, and yes there were 28 people shot dead that sad, sad day, you were not directly affected. Our families came home. Most of our brave teachers lived. But somehow, even though these kids were not my kids, and these teachers not our teachers, and these moms and cops and truck drivers and EMTs and firefighters and classroom aides are not the very same people invited to our very own backyard picnics, they are people who we have met at somebody else's barbecue.

Make no mistake about it: they were probably in your backyard too. Or on your lacrosse or soccer or baseball fields, or in your Christmas pageants or dance recitals, or wrestling or swim meets. In your classrooms. At your dinner table.

And now they're not.

And with that, we are all directly affected.

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