For years now, the media has hyped the supposed “end of the world” in December 2012.
And for my previously unheard of hometown of Newtown, CT, this past Friday certainly was just that — the end of our perfect, innocent world.
In a matter of minutes, Newtown went from a place synonymous with quintessential New England charm to a nightmare we’re all still waiting to wake up from.
Words will never exist to describe the absolute shock, horror, pure numbness I felt sitting 3,000 miles away in London watching images of my beloved hometown, elementary school and neighborhood flash across international news.
Surreal, horrified, broken…these words don’t even begin to explain it.
Describing our Newtown community as “close-knit” is an understatement.
Having lived in Newtown for the past 16 years, I spent the entirety of my primary education and formative years here. For me (and I’m sure any alumni from the Newtown public school system would agree with me), the love and support of growing up in a place like Newtown made me who I am. We owe everything to this town.
For those of us lucky enough to call this place home, Newtown was everything childhood should be.
It was Wednesday afternoon dance lessons at Edmond Town Hall. It was the St. Rose Carnival on a warm July night. It was trick-or-treating on our picturesque Main Street and “gallon challenges” at The Creamery. It was breakfast for dinner with best friends and The Diner. It was “Flagpole” sandwiches at Misty Vale after school let out.
For lack of a better word, Newtown was by all accounts a bubble. An ideal, safe bubble, that (looking back now) we all unknowingly took for granted.
Many Friday nights we spent just wishing for more excitement in our quiet little town. Now, we’re wishing for anything but.
And still, in light of everything that transpired this past Friday morning, I continue to be inspired by the truly amazing individuals who make up my community. To hear parents of the victims speaking out on facing the future with only compassion and love, even for the shooter’s family, even in their own crises, is beyond inspirational.
I am completely in awe of the spirit and strength they have under such circumstances.
For the next few days, weeks, months and regrettably, forever, my town will try to make sense of a senseless act of violence. As we now try to explain this tragedy to the children of our community, most of us are still struggling to explain it to ourselves.
My deepest thoughts, prayers, and love go out to all of the victims, their families, and everyone grieving in my town during this time of heartbreak. In the wake of the unthinkable, the only thing that we can do is continue to come together in love and prayer as a community. If anything, this serves as a chilling reminder this holiday season to hug your family, friends and loved ones.
Remember that life is short — let people know they matter to you.
As the days go on, we’ll try to pick up the pieces. We’ll try to move forward. We’ll move on, but we’ll never forget.
For the world watching my town as this unfolds, please remember that Newtown is not just another case study. It is not a place for the media to camp out in front of our homes and places of worship, to watch our every move as my town grieves.
It is not a place destined to become the next Columbine, a town whispered of only in fear.
Newtown never needed to experience this tragedy to come together as one. But it is undoubtedly the absolute love within this place that will begin to put back together our beloved little world.
Newtown is our town. Newtown is our home. Newtown is our family.
We are a town now devastated by this tragedy. And although we grieve with shattered hearts, we will never be shattered in spirit.
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