I'm a writer and so I must write. I can't help it. It's ingrained in every molecule of my being and tonight, I want to write, but this won't be just any piece of writing. No book review or writing anecdote. No simile or metaphor I'm not writing tonight as a writer. I'm just writing because it's the only way I can cope with the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Twenty beautiful children were killed on December 14th. Six courageous women gave up their lives trying to protect them. We were left in collective sorrow, and as President Obama said: "our hearts are broken..."
My daughters are 5 and 8. Before they were even born, I wondered what they would look like and be like at this age. Now I daydream about a sweet sixteen, driving lessons, and a college graduation. Never did I stop to consider the fragility of our lives. I didn't allow any thoughts of losing them to enter my mind, just like virtually every parent out there.
Twenty-six candles flickering during a rainy night in Newtown have forced me to think differently, and I rage at the helplessness, the despondency, and the grief that's robbed me of that illusory sense of security.
It's difficult to hear Christmas carols and think of smiling children opening gifts, knowing twenty children's bedrooms are forever empty; knowing their gifts will remain beneath the tree, without small hands to claim them.
I don't want to read a joke, a book review, an event invitation, a political commentary or some sports bit online because it feels callous. I don't want to read about prayers and how God was there for the victims. I don't care to hear or engage in arguments about gun rights and gun control. I don't want to hear some politician use the tragedy as a platform to advance his own agenda and rewrite our constitution. I don't want to hear about some press jackal interviewing one of the survivors.
I think of the moment Vicki Soto confronted the assassin, perhaps drawing comfort from the fact that her kids were hidden, and valiantly accepting her fate...
What were the last seconds of each child before they were struck? What kind of horror did they endure as they saw their friends go down?
I'm so sorry...
It's all I've had in mind since Friday morning, and it won't go away.
Anxiety grips me while my kids are in school, and I don't breathe right until I know they're safe at home. My fears abate only when I hold them in my arms.
Back in September of 2001, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Butler Eagle. I invoked patriotism and the unique resiliency of this place called America. I had faith that we would move on. We mourned thousands back then...
I'll mourn these twenty-six victims for the rest of my life. No, I never met them, but somehow my heart knows what they each mean.
I pray I don't add another day in my lifetime where our flag flies at half staff.
Inevitably, life will go on. The images might fade. I hope we regain that sense of security surrounding our schools, frail as it may be. I hope we change our direction, close the chasms between the ideologies that now separate us, and unite in the name of our kids. They deserve a safer nation.
I hope we begin to recognize educators for the amazing people they are, for how much they care for and love our kids.
I will not forget Principal Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Lauren Rousseau, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel D'Avino, and Vicki Soto, heroes in the truest sense of the word. I hope we keep that in mind before we throw the term around when glorifying professional athletes.
And for Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Jessica, Benjamin, Dylan, Avielle, Allison, Caroline, and Josephine, no words are remotely adequate to convey what their loss means. No phrase exists that can lessen this sorrow. My only expressions are the tears I desperately try to hide when I picture their smiles.
None of them will be forgotten.
With a heavy heart, I drove away from Newtown in the rain. I left a part of me there in the form of a candle. I left some prayers and a lot of tears for whatever they're worth, and I rushed home to my little girls, a changed father, a changed person.
Javier A. Robayo