Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, CT

At The Flagpole in Newtown, CT (RA photo, July, 2004)
I know Newtown, CT.  Nice "New England" type of town, with a charming movie theater, general store, fairly quiet.  A bucolic place.

My sister lives in Fairfield, CT, and it wasn't uncommon for members of my family to drive to Newtown (at the flagpole, where US 6 and CT Route 25 meet).  We all know the town.  I've driven through it countless times.  A few miles away sits Route 34, which winds north and west from New Haven to Sandy Hook - an enclave of Newtown.  It's where US 6 used to meet 34 before Interstate 84 was built.  A charming little place, where "everybody knows everyone."

Just off route 34 came unspeakable tragedy.

Today, Newtown and Sandy Hook, reached a level of celebrity that nobody wants.  In the way that we know "Columbine", we will now speak of "Newtown and Sandy Hook."

If you don't know, earlier today, one of the most deadly mass murders in our country's history occurred in Newtown, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It's the second worst school massacre*, in back of Virginia Tech.  As of this writing, just after 6:00 PM, 20 schoolchildren area dead.  The total dead could be 28, or more.

I need to stress that the facts are still very raw, and there has already been a lot of misinformation.

*NOTE: Through a little further research, I've discovered that the Bath School Disaster, in Bath Township, Michigan on May 18, 1927, was the deadliest in history.  This fact matters so very little, but it is a fact, so I felt I must amend this.

As well as I know Newtown, I was miles away from there when I heard the news.  With Lisa, I got the early word from my "Press Box" colleagues.  Initially, there seemed to be minimal issues - a couple of people hurt, the wounded at Danbury Hospital.  Schools and the hospital were locked down, with good reason.  Lisa and I headed out for holiday shopping, in Kingston, NY.  While grabbing lunch, I checked my phone to see what Ryan, Kato, and CJ were talking about, when the numbers hit me.

Suddenly, I felt like I might burst into tears.  I was upset with the initial news, given that it's so close to "my home area" and, by extension, Sean.  But now, the whole thing exploded for me.  For the past six hours, every time I try to talk about Sean, I well up.  He's fine, folks, and I know that, but I just want to hug him.  I want to put the iPad in his hands, and listen to him giggle. 

I feel so deeply for the families tonight.  I am totally devastated for my friends in Connecticut - Newtown, Danbury, Bethel, and beyond.  Everyone is feeling the sadness.  This, we continue to learn, can happen to any of us.  That's where the fear comes in.

Lisa and I walked around, feeling almost numb.  The sound of Christmas music, to be honest, angered me.  To be further honest, the sound of rock music pouring out of the stations near Newtown struck me as insensitive.

Friends, for me, tonight isn't the time for the hand-wringing over gun control.  It's become obvious to me that if someone wants to attack, then they will somehow.  It strikes me that mental health needs to be deeply researched to understand what the hell is going on. 

But again, tonight is not the night for the debate.  It also is not the night for windbags like this guy who said God did nothing to stop this tragedy because He has been taken out of the classroom (Mediaite).  Tonight is the night for being sensitive.  ESPN has decided to be very prudent in their approach (Deadspin).

Tonight is about a big group hug.

If you haven't seen or heard the President, here's what he had to say today.

Over at The Onion, they pretty much said what I, and many others, are feeling tonight.

In parts of Connecticut, they're going to play sports tonight.  The Stamford/Bridgeport Central basketball game is on TV.  That, of course, is their choice.  If I had a game to call, I would.  It's my job, and I would approach it as such, but with a very heavy heart.  I might even chide the governing bodies for having played the game.  But it's their call.  Still, I think we would be best served to have a night off to hold each other.

At times, I have questioned myself as to if I'm being melodramatic.  The short answer is: no.

My heart breaks for Newtown and Sandy Hook.  I hope for them to find strength and to stay together.

There are no answers for the most unspeakable thing.  Little kids went to school today and aren't coming home.

Explain that to me.

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