We are Newtown

I haven’t watched TV much this week. Between packing up the apartment and taking care of a really sick little dude, I’ve had plenty to keep me busy, but the reassuring background murmur of the TV isn’t something I could bear this week when it was nonstop coverage of little ones’ funerals. We’ve been watching Christmas DVDs instead, a distraction for me, and the only way I can keep my kids from overhearing news I’m not quite ready to explain to them.

I knew right after the news started on Friday what a horrible week it would be. I knew because we’ve been through it so many times now, horrifically enough. I thought to myself, oh no. As we learn more, the week before Christmas will be filled with stories about these little ones and their brave caretakers who lost their lives. And then it hit me:

In so many of the prior tragedies, there has been a lot to say about the victims, who in their adulthood have had time to grow and accomplish and show the world who they were. What would you say about a six year old? He was six, and he liked Legos. She loved vanilla ice cream, and horses. So much vast wellspring of potential, snuffed out before it even had a chance to develop. And that led to the first of many ugly cries, in the war room at the convention center, in my hotel room, in the airport on the way home when the pinheads at Houston Intercontinental decided to put news stations on full volume in all the terminals filled with travelling families.

And sure enough, this week has been just that, little looks at little lives gone. And amidst each heartbreaking story, glimpses into who these children might have grown up to be, and it is in those moments we feel especially devastated, when we recognize ourselves. They are all lovely and beautiful children with stories they should have gotten to tell, but those that hit close to home seem to really make you catch your breath.

Daniel Barden, who wanted to be a firefighter. Hundreds of firefighters from up and down the East Coast arrived to line the streets, a silent nod to one they have adopted as their own.

For me, it was Catherine Hubbard, the adorable redhead who loved animals so much her family requested in lieu of flowers, people donate to the Newtown Animal Shelter, to the specially designated Catherine Violet Hubbard Memorial Fund. I saw this, and I thought, now here is a little girl who loved animals so much that her family thought this would be the very thing she would most have wanted.

She was one of us, the animal lovers. Every Christmas, she asked Santa for another pet. Sound familiar to any of you? Maybe she would have grown up to run an incredible rescue or become a leading equine surgeon or simply be an amazing animal owner, but now we will never know, and isn’t that a shame for the world.

The loss and the grief is so profound, I feel uncomfortable with the media serving it up even if it’s meant in a sympathetic and not a voyeuristic way. So I’m not watching the news anymore. I know what I need to know. Instead, in honor of Catherine’s life and to acknowledge her as one of us the way the firemen took in Daniel as one of theirs, I will donate to the Newtown shelter in her name, and I hope others follow suit, so that in some small way those who would have mentored her in this shared passion can stand together and say: we are sorry, so sorry, for your loss.


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  • JaneK

    Thank you for this thoughtful post….. You always put words i cant find to thoughts I have. It’s not just the lives cut short but the loss of what these lives were going to be…..

  • Meghan Grace

    I, along with the world, have shed so many tears in the past week and turning off the tv is one of the ways to cope. The reporters just can’t tell me anything new. We just can’t let these lives go without recognizing the potential that has been forever lost. I will also donate in Catherine’s name-in honor and memory of her and all these beautiful children. Thank you Jessica for a beautiful post. Hugs, Meghan

  • kgseymour

    Heartbreaking but beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Marilia Bavaresco


  • Emily Pope

    I must agree that witnessing Newtown’s unspeakable tragedy, watching a town grieve through a television screen seems voyeuristic. What you said on Facebook about “reflecting on the special sadness that comes when you recognize a kindred spirit in those who were lost,” really resonated with me. It shows how the human spirit is truly tied together, despite age, time or circumstance. Thanks for a beautiful post.

  • Susi

    A lovely post, Jessica. Well said.

  • Financial Black Sheep

    I usually only watch PBS, the news or something lame while I exercise. I get most of my news on Twitter, but I have had to pull the plug on T.V. and Twitter. There was one story of a child that survived that killed me inside. The media quoted her and gave her story like it was another incident for entertainment purposes. I think we should respect the little ones privacies more and stop quoting and following every sentence. As for the ones that died, it is horrific and horrible, but after so many tragedies here in CO I can’t watch anymore… they just keep bringing back horrible memories. I like that the parents have set up a donation fund for one of the little ones, that is really cool. Thank you for sharing.

  • Cathey

    Thank you for saying so well what most of us cannot find a way to put into words, but feel deeply, along with you.