Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Can't Forget

In my nearly eight years in Manhattan, I never listened to the radio. The radio was always something I associated with driving in a car, and since I didn't drive a car in New York City, I never turned on the radio. I don't even think I could have told you what the good radio stations were.

But now that I moved to the suburbs and drive a car every single day, the radio has once again become a part of my life. On my first day in the car, I was flipping through the stations, and stumbled upon a country music station. I love country music, but have found it to be a rare commodity in the northeast. So now the radio in my car is always tuned to Kicks 105.5.

I mostly tune out when the music stops and the DJs start talking, so what I failed to notice in my first six weeks in the suburbs is that my new favorite radio station is a station out of Connecticut, and they broadcast just a few miles from Newtown.

All week long the station has been inundated with callers sharing their thoughts about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and many of those callers have been broadcast on the air. And while I have tried really hard to stay away from the news in the days since the shooting - because once I start reading and watching I can't stop, and tend to get sucked in far beyond what is healthy and reasonable - I have been positively unable to turn off the radio. Hearing the tributes and thoughts from the residents of Newtown and the surrounding towns has been a way for me to process this tragedy in a way that seemed good and right to me.

But last night when I got in the car to head home from work there was something different on the radio. There was no music, and there were no DJs. Instead there was a man making a speech. And for a minute I couldn't tell what the speech was from, and then I realized. My radio station was broadcasting the entirety of the Tribute to Newtown, held at Connecticut State University. The tribute was organized to allow Connecticut resident to come together, to talk, and to grieve.

And I turned on the car just in time to hear these words from the university president, James Schmotter:

"We are alike in our pain; we are alike in our grief; we are alike in our quest to try to find some understanding of the events that seem truly incomprehensible."

And the truth of those words struck something in me. Reading blogs, and listening to the radio these past days, I have come to understand that I am far from the only one still trying to make sense out of the senseless. That I am far from the only one who is still thinking about the faces of twenty children who will be forever first graders. That I am far from the only one trying to find order in chaos. 

This is, unfortunately, not the first mass shooting in recent memory, but this one feels different. I just can't move on from this one. And I'm not sure that I should, completely. It feels right to still be thinking about it. To not want to ever forget about it. To not be able to write words about anything else.

So while the funerals continue and the residents of Newtown try to pick up the pieces of their shattered community, I hope that they don't feel alone. As the parents grieve and the siblings wonder what became of their brothers and sisters, I hope they feel the arms of a nation wrapped around them. I hope they know that we will never, ever forget those twenty-seven faces, and that our tears flow along with theirs.

And I hope it brings just a bit of balm to their broken hearts and aching souls.


  1. This post is so helpful to me. I keep thinking that I can't let go or shake the sadness because I am a mother. And maybe it's not because I am a mother, but because of the nature of the event and the tragedy. It's horrible for everyone. not must mothers.

  2. I've been thinking the same thing as Christie at times. I have a child roughly the same age. I'm filling out kindergarten applications for next year. My demographic relationship to the victims is why I can't forget.

    But reading / hearing about others who don't have young children and also can't forget makes me feel like it's not just that. And in a weird way that makes me feel better. Like maybe most people have reached a tipping point of sorts. Not that anybody was like, "A school shooting? Meh. Whatever," before but there's something about this one that's just such an epic exemplifier of how messed up we are with respect to violence.

    Part of me also feels like we shouldn't forget because forgetting would mean we'd move on and once we started talking about other things then the larger issue of gun violence and mass shootings wouldn't be addressed on a meaningful policy level because someone will have a nip-slip or show up without a flag pin or something and that would become the new national fixation. Maybe we shouldn't forget until we do something about how often we shoot each other.

  3. I'm going to chime in here. I can't stop thinking about it either and I too blamed it on the fact that my boy is about to turn 6. I don't want to forget because like Larks said I don't want to forget to do something. But I've been avoiding thinking about it because it hurts too much to think about, still. I mean no disrespect to the families, I can't imagine what they are going through.

    It helps to know others are feeling as broken about this as I am. That I'm not just some overly sensitive freak but that we all recognize that this is just way more horrific than most tragedies.

  4. I think it will be a long time before a day goes by and I don't think of Newtown. You expressed this perfectly.