Newtown on My Mind
Last summer, after a long day at soccer recruitment camp, I returned to the hotel my mom and I were staying at. Meeting up with my mom in the lobby, I noticed a small crowd in front of the TV by the bar. A massacre at a movie theatre in Aurora, Col. had left over a dozen dead and over 50 injured. Despite my horror, I felt safe and distanced from this tragedy; such terror would never surface near my home.
I was wrong…. So, so wrong.
This weekend, many of us discovered the horrifying truth of what happened on Friday in Newtown, Conn. This was a historical tragedy, and the fact that it happened in our own backyard was a personal and unfathomable nightmare; 27 people were murdered a half hour drive from my own school.
Since early childhood my friends, teachers, and I have enjoyed connections with Newton residents. At Treadwell Park, barely a mile from the school, my Everton soccer club team played against Newtown’s club team, Newtown Samba TTP, just last spring. And only a few months ago, our varsity scrimmage against my friend Brian and his Newtown varsity squad ended in a draw. My Latin teacher, Magistra Huettner, taught at Newtown High School for a number of years. Through all these interactions, I really felt this horrible incident involved me somehow.
It was just too close to home.
When the story broke, Staples erupted into chaos. Rumors darted through the school, and no one knew what to believe. Many teachers and students had friends in Newtown, and they prayed to God that their friends would make it through.
No one knows why these disturbed human beings commit such unthinkable crimes, nor how they are driven to such unimaginable evil, but everyone assumes that their own safety is assured by their distance from these catastrophes. That is, until they find themselves in one of these situations.
Experiencing one of these disasters firsthand and personally knowing those who were directly affected reveals so much more about one’s character than a disaster hundreds of miles away.
This weekend I cried several times, each time alone at my house. I couldn’t do anything all day except think about Sandy Hook, and even in the company of friends I had Newtown on my mind. It was easier to express emotion about it to myself, because I felt most comfortable grieving in solitude.
I’m not sure why.
This was how my character was revealed after Friday’s events. I don’t doubt that many others shared similar periods of pain in the wake of what happened.
I don’t usually cry, nor do I spend hours thinking and reading about any single thing, but this was different.
I still am consumed by last week’s tragedy, though the feelings have slowly diminished, and will continue to over time.
But I will never, ever forget.
There is no real path to forgetting, nor is there a simple healing process, and no one expects there to be. We are very close to Newtown, which makes it that much more frightening. At the same time, though, we are that much more capable of lending a hand to our fallen neighbors, for they are too close to home to just simply overlook.
I believe it is our duty to do that in any way possible.