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Newtown numbs the soul

POSTED December 15, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                          Newtown numbs the soul

                                           “Would you know my name

                                             If I saw you in heaven?

                                             Would you feel the same

                                             If I saw you in heaven?

                                              I must be strong and carry on

                                              Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.”

                                                                                     Eric Clapton

            It is Saturday morning about 7 a.m. and I can’t keep the intermittent tears from rolling down my cheeks. You double clutch and take deep breaths to keep it from becoming a steady stream. The eyes feel raw like I’ve been on the beach all day. If only.

            I’ve been watching the continuing coverage of Friday’s horrific, unimaginable events in Newtown and struggle to put my mind around it all. I am a dad of my life’s brightest light, a 12-year old son named Jonathan. I am a school teacher. Neither a prerequisite to grieve here, just an added connection to the pain.

            But, you only need to be a human being with a pulse here to pause, to cry, to feel your heart being assaulted. What are we doing? Where are we going? How do we deal? Why do we have to deal?

            Twenty-eight people dead. Twenty of them children between the ages of 5 and 10. It’s a Rubic’s Cube. I have never figured that out and I know like so many others I will never figure this out.

            You go to school to learn, to socialize, it is your extended family in so many ways. When you go to school you expect to come home. You expect tomorrow. There is no tomorrow here. One young victim was going to be an angel in her church’s Christmas pageant this coming week.

            Now, she’s an angel elsewhere. Comforting in one school of thought, horrifying in another. The last violent moments, the last thoughts which we will never know, the carnage, the first-responders, the parents and families and those who watch in numbing disbelief.

            It numbs the soul. So much do we want to turn the clock back  and greet the sunny morning 11 days before Christmas that was Friday before 9:30. So helpless are we.

            As so often happens in events of this magnitude, the horror grew as the day moved along. First, there was a shooting. Then the numbers began to appear. The death of a Principal with so many connections to this immediate area, Woodbury resident Dawn Hochsprung.

            Other adults including a school psychologist Mary Sherlock who was planning on retiring at the end of the year and the assassin’s mother. And the children.

            My wife ran into Thomaston High girls basketball coach and 5th grade teacher Bob McMahon, a neighbor of mine at one time, and they shared tears in a grocery store. Tim Gaffney, who works for Frito Lay when not putting so much effort into this web site said he never saw so much crying in his travels. Gaffney also ran into Jim Shannon, an outstanding photographer for the Waterbury Republican who told him, “This is one of those days I hate my job.” Jim was off to Newtown.

            This morning I called my good friend, former teaching colleague and Thomaston High boys basketball coach, Gary Franklin, who now teaches at Newtown High School. Franklin was on a field trip to Education Connection in Litchfield Friday and had to deal with a group of students as they became aware of what was happening in their hometown.

            Because the school was in lockdown, Franklin could not return his upset group to school. He had to get permission from parents to deliver each student to their home.  Franklin is a tough guy, but he was shaken.

My son, Jonathan, has watched much of the TV coverage. When I came home Friday he had it on. We watched a visibly distressed Obama wipe away a tear as he struggled through a comforting speech in the afternoon.

Jonathan is handling it well, but I know his heart and it has been hit.

Friday night we went to a party for our small band that is giving you this web site. It was a good thing, as it forced thoughts to momentarily move in a distant direction. But always Newtown was there haunting us.

Sometimes you hope a bad dream is a bad dream and so it was when I woke up this morning. But the headlines reminded me that this bad dream is a reality. ‘Massacre of the Innocents” in the Waterbury Republican.  “Our hearts are broken” striped across the front page of the Hartford Courant.

You can’t get away from the children. Condolences from around the world, the images in photo of the inconsolable anguish and on the flip side, those who were able to take their children home.

Somehow we will move on, mechanically at first, a hole in our heart always. You cope, you don’t forget. And for the parents I don’t have the first clue on how you cope. I always go back to the old WW II song, “You can’t hold a memory in your arms.”

Time won’t cure, nothing will, but it will help, it is an ally here. Hugs and support are essential. We grieve for the children and for their families who will struggle to take a step into tomorrow and then the next day.

I have to finish up some Christmas shopping today. It will get me up and moving. It is a good thing. But, there is a lack of enthusiasm here. Like so many the heart is heavy.

It is Christmas time. Or is it? For 20 children there are no more Christmases. For so many families a season of celebration has become a nightmare that in part will never go away.

Like so many I struggle with that. Like so many I feel helpless hoping that a prayer and support will work some magic. Like so many I wait for the time it will get better but don’t know when or how and know it will never be how it was. Like so many I hug my kid, a lot.

And Like so many I cry

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