Thoughts and Prayers with Newtown, CT

I work in a school that houses kids ages 3-18. One of the best parts of my day is when I get to see the little ones, walking by with their sweet faces and innocent joy — it just warms my heart. How can you do anything but smile and love them? Today, the memorial page for Sandy Hook Elementary features photos and collages of their sweet cherubs. Beyond heartbreaking. 

Before I left for our staff party up on a hill in gorgeous, seaside Bogliasco, I saw a “breaking news” post about a shooting in CT. It said that the gunman was dead and at least 3 people were injured. I thought to myself, “I’m so glad nobody died except the gunman” and was slightly disturbed at yet another school shooting. When I came back from the party, bubbly and happy after a great evening of live music, great friends /colleagues, and wonderful food — I wrote a couple of carefree emails, oblivious to the horrible news and grieving everyone was going through. I then read an email from my father who said he was “sick over the news in CT.” On my Twitter feed, I saw he had posted this story from CBS Local in NYC.

Instantly, I was sick to my stomach and began the never-ending tears as I saw that at least 27 people were killed . . . 20 of them children aged 6 and 7. How do you shoot an innocent child? How do you do it 20 times? We are all wondering the same things. I began to get responses back to my emails regarding the weekend. One friend wrote that he was “mostly drinking away the horrible news day.” He works for a news website, and they have TVs in the office playing the news all day . . .so when it’s a bad news day, it’s overload. I felt like an idiot for being so bubbly and happy, but I didn’t know. The news is now global news as the world mourns and wonders why. Here is an article on my homepage. My students will definitely want to talk about it in class tomorrow. These things just don’t happen here in Italy, especially in safe Genoa. But as we learned from the horrific summer 2011 shooting in peaceful Norway, nowhere is safe anymore.

I felt so buffered here in Italy, without a TV and so far from everything. Yet news travels quickly with modern technology, and the grief is palpable thousands of miles away. CT, part of the NYC metro area, the tri-state area, is close to home in many ways. I am familiar with the location of the wooded town in Western, CT — always feeling safe and at peace when I drive through that part of the state. I can’t comprehend the shock, the parents with Christmas gifts waiting in their hiding spots, the parents with dreams for their little cherubs’ futures.

While it was mentally good to be detached from the media, I did need more information so read as much as I could, followed statuses on facebook and twitter, and watched clips of news reports from home, learning about the teachers’ amazing bravery as they thought quickly to save their children’s lives. Some of those teachers, including 27-year-old Victoria Soto, did not make it although her students did. She sacrificed her life for her kids. What an amazing, brave and heroic woman.

My friend posted this amazing quote from Mr. Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers


As I said in the heartbreaking aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, we get through tragedy through the triumph of the human spirit — by connecting and reaching out to each other. And that is definitely what I see now. And while it is no consolation and there are no words that can ever make sense of this unthinkable act, I wish everyone as much peace as is possible at this difficult time.


I never got to know you, but I will remember you. Rest in peace.

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