Monday, December 17, 2012

My Thoughts on the Newtown Tragedy

For my company, I work in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.  Basically, we work on trying to prevent bad things from happening, and if they do, try to minimize the impact so that the business can continue to function.  I usually monitor the news to see if there are any events that could affect the company.  There could be an earthquake, or a tornado, or a protest near one of our sites that could potentially disrupt business.

When I saw an alert this morning that there was yet another shooting, I glanced over it, thinking it was just another domestic dispute, or maybe a disgruntled worker.  It stuck in my head just a bit longer than usual because I saw that it was in Connecticut, just a few towns over from where I live.  In fact, over the last couple of summers, Annalise has had several softball games in Newtown, not far from the elementary school where the reported shooting had taken place.

I went on with my day, but I kept a window open that constantly refreshed the news.  As more details leaked out and the tragic events unfolded, I began streaming the news on my iPad.

The video that the news was showing displayed a scene that was already controlled by the authorities.  Dozens of first responders were on the scene as police locked the area down.  Initial reports said that “only” three people were taken to the hospital and that the gunman had already been killed.  So maybe the damage was limited and perhaps this was a “simple” murder suicide case.  Maybe some guy just got fired and decided to take it out on a couple people at the school.  But whatever the case, it didn’t look too bad.

But this wasn’t just another domestic dispute or another case of workplace violence, as I thought at first. The reason that we didn’t see all of the casualties was that they were all still in the building.  At first, the report was that there were several casualties.  Then, there were multiple fatalities.  Then, we found out that several children were among the dead.  With each report, I grew more and more nauseous, hoping that it was just some error in reporting.  But then, our worst fears were confirmed.  At the end of the day, 20 innocent children and 6 adults lost their lives.

I instantly thought about Annalise and Nathaniel, especially Nathaniel because he, himself is in kindergarten.  I put myself in that classroom and just imagined the terror and bewilderment the children must have gone through before their all-too-short lives were so callously snuffed out.  I tortured myself by imagining Nathaniel in that room, crying, watching his friends get shot.  I jumped on the next train and went home.

It was a long train ride home.  I thought about the parents who came to the sudden realization that their child was no longer alive.  These parents, as many of us do on a daily basis, sent their kids off to school, never questioning that they’ll see them later in the day.  But suddenly, their child was gone.

I wrote about this briefly after Isabella died, but in some ways, it is easier on parents like Julianne and myself to lose a child after a long sickness.  We’ve had years to try and do what we could for Isabella, but we also had in the back of our minds what was waiting.  We were able to prepare ourselves mentally for Isabella’s death, and the only unknown variable was when.  We were able to say goodbye to Isabella in our home and held her as she passed.

But these parents that lost their child today had no such time to prepare.  They dropped their kids off, fully expecting to pick them up later in the day.  Even as hundreds of other children were being reunited with their families, every minute that went by, the hopes of seeing their child alive diminished.  These parents couldn’t even claim their child’s body as the crime scene investigators scour the area, looking for clues as to the details of what happened.  I don’t even know the emotional toll this could take on them and how they will recover.

As more details of this tragic event unfold, we will all be wondering “why” and “how” can such a thing happen?  There will be a lot of focus on the gunman, his parents and upbringing, gun laws, school safety, and lots of other things.

But I urge you and the media to focus on the victims and their families.  These are people whose light was extinguished much too soon and they shouldn’t be forgotten.  We should focus on the teachers who heroically and instinctively protected the children and got them to safety.  Teaching is not supposed to be a hazardous occupation.

Today, I went to visit Isabella’s grave and I openly wept as I thought about the new kids that she would be meeting.  I could see her greeting Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, and Allison, all with her big smile.

Then she would show them around and they would all be running and playing and laughing for eternity.

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1 comment:

  1. Every one of us is heartbroken over this senseless act. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Roneil.

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