Family and Friends. Keep them close.
It was one of the toughest three-day stretches this country has endured since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Since Friday mid-day when I saw a message on Facebook from my friend Jim Shannon that said, “In Newtown. Sometimes I hate my job”, everything seemed to stand still.
The rest of the day, I was in a fog.
No more speed and efficiency for me after listening to the news about what had taken place in Newtown at the Sand Hook Elementary School.
Numbers like 27 dead, maybe 20 children.
I could not wrap my head around any of this.
In that way, it was similar to September 11 in that nothing could prepare you for such an event.
I, like millions of others, simply felt a large knot in the pit of my stomach that made anything else I was doing seem incredibly unimportant.
At each stop the rest of my day, I came across people who simply starting crying while at line at the store to get lottery tickets.
Every time I heard about the children who passed, tears streamed down my face.
We had scheduled a Christmas party at the Gaffney house that night for the families involved with LCS.
Two of the three families coming had young children and I wasn’t sure any of them would be in the mood to celebrate anything.
I was half expecting to get phone calls from the guys saying they just weren’t up to it after what they had seen during the day on television or heard on the radio like I did.
But came they did, starting with the Wilson Family.
Head writer Rick Wilson, his wife Carolyn and the one I call “The Rock Star”, Jonathan made the trip up from Thomaston.
Jonathan originally had a basketball game scheduled but all after school activities were cancelled after the tragedy.
Patrick Tiscia, one of the original architects of Litchfield County Sports and his wife Becky, the graphic design artist behind our logos, also came up from Bristol.
We all remember when they got married four years ago. I think every sports writer in the area was on hand, the Tiscia's are some of our favorite people.
John Nestor, the newest member of the team but certainly not to the industry, also brought his young family; his wife Nancy and their three children, James, Jack and Samantha.
One of our favorite locals, Michael Fabiaschi, a member of the Oakland A's farm system, rounded out the LCS team and spent a great night talking sports with guys who can't get enough of it.
We even had a friends two kids join us to give us six kids in total.
Young Jeffrey and Samantha joined us and the party was on.
For about four hours that night, we ate, laughed, played foosball downstairs and watched two strange guys on DVD from a trip they took to Florida this fall.
Wilson and Gaffney may have been on the tube, but the fun was in the house.
Great food, better company and a thankful feeling for having the kids in the mix.
Sure, after everybody left and Mrs. Gaffney and I cleaned up, that pit in your stomach returned but it was time to rest the mind and body for another busy Saturday.
After a morning of work, it was time to pick up our little eight-year old shining star of a granddaughter, Skyy Elizabeth for a trip to see two of our daughters up in Ledyard for dinner.
It’s about a two hour trip from here in Torrington but time well spent with a little girl busy making Xmas cards in the back seat while singing along to carols on the radio.
Heart, officially warmed.
My daughter Jillian (24) and Bryan live in a condo and own another one of our favorites, Frankie or as I call him, “Frankie Boy!!!!
”Frankie is a two-year old Bulldog who is strong enough to pull your house across the state when he gets excited.
So when Grandma and Grandpa come to town, all bets are off.
We visited with Frankie and another Gaffney daughter, Kym before headed off to a place called the “Steak Loft” in Mystic.
Kym (28) had hoped we were going to eat dinner on some actual bales of hay but we got a really cool table with storage without having to wait at all on a Saturday night.
We had a round table that fit the six of us well with an extra chair behind the table for pocket books, etc.
The best thing about the joint though, was what Skyy could do.
She could carve her name into the walls at will.
Normally something that may result in some community service at some point but here, it was just one of hundreds of signatures on the walls, tables and chairs.
The food was good and again the company better.
Soon we went back to Jill’s for some coffee and desert and a long Frankie walk (he would have walked us back to Torrington if we let him) before packing it in around nine.
With Skyy content in the backseat watching “Chipwrecked” on the computer, we made our way back to T-Town.
As life moves faster and faster, it’s important to remember what and who is important.
The time spent from Friday at 6 p.m. when company arrived until 10 a.m. when we dropped Skyy off at home is the reason we do everything we do.
Even snuck in a half hour conversation on the phone with my older sister Mo (Maureen but can’t call her that) in Walla Walla, Washington to top off the family focused weekend.
Events like 9-11 and 12/14/12 are horrific in every way but they also be reminding us not to take a moment for granted.
The only thing those kids were thinking about when they went to school on Friday was perhaps their Xmas list, vacation time or a game of tag with friends.
Their parents, who will need all our love and supports for the foreseeable future, will be bolstered by their family and friends in this unimaginable time of grieve.
Twenty little beds remain empty tonight.
Twenty new stars shine bright in the sky.
Value your family time and get extra whenever you can……