Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newtown Strong

I have been at a loss for words this whole week. In fact, I believe the whole nation now carries this same sentiment. The tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012 has left me speechless. It has instilled a writer's block in me that I haven't been able to break until now. Words are the way in which I express myself, the way in which I've always expressed my feelings, my emotions, and yet the scope of this tragedy has been ripping across my core and tearing away my ability to form words for the past few days as I watch endless news reports filled with suffering and loss. It is hard to see the pain of families whose trees are embellished with presents that will never be opened. It is difficult to see parents who have school photographs in their living rooms, these photos being all they have left of the loved ones whom the frame now features. It is unbearably painful to see the flagpole standing in the middle of town, its flag sagging limp at half mast. It is hard to watch all this and know that I once called this sad place my home. 
I was born and raised in Newtown, CT. We moved out of the state when I was in fourth grade, but my childhood memories remain locked in the halls of St. Rose. I never thought that the town in which I made my first friends, the place where I learned how to live and how to love, would be featured as the guest of this unspeakable horror. No one wants to see his/her hometown ravaged by violence and destruction, yet there on the television flash the names of loved ones lost. Right there, displayed in the middle of the screen, lies the mess that one sad soul can bring to a community. I used to have to explain where Newtown was to people, often giving up and saying I was born near Danbury but grew up in Maine. Now everyone knows where Newtown is; you no longer have to repeat yourself. The name lingers in the air as people in the room turn to give you knowing nods and mournful looks. 
However, in spite of all the tragedy of the past few days, it is a resilient community. I am fortunate enough to not be one of those directly impacted by this horrific event. Although I still have family and friends that live in town, the lives of those I know are still brilliantly vibrant with hope and courage. I still refer to my old next door neighbors as my neighbors, despite 14 years and many miles that speak to the contrary. Speaking with them, viewing my hometown on every major news channel, seeing "Newtown" make headlines is all so surreal. It is heartbreaking to see a community shattered, yet heartwarming to see that very same community come together in the midst of such devastation. 
Many people are speaking about it, lecturing, singing, praying, preaching; now I am writing. I have seen this tragedy take its toll on both members of the community and strangers to it. In the midst of awful hatred often comes unwavering love. In the middle of the darkest of times, we see light and life from those who come together to support each other. I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Newtown, and proud to be a citizen once again of the same state in which I have witnessed such extraordinary strength and selflessness. Despite the years that have taken me away from my hometown, the bravery of those connected with Friday's events and the love of an entire community make me proud to call Newtown my home. 
While all these words may have been written and spoken before, I hope to convey the depth to which this event has touched me and possibly create the words for those who have none. I can not claim to have answers or clarity because I do not believe that either can be found. I know that words are never going to be enough. 
Newtown strong.  

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