Sometimes it becomes necessary to break character and address a situation with all sincerity. Clearly that time unfortunately fell upon us last weekend and throughout this week.
By now, just about everything that could have been said about the utter tragedy that befell the wonderful community in Newtown and at Sandy Hook Elementary School has already been said. But I need to write about just a few quick silent observations and emotions from the worst week most of us have seen in a long time.
Even as a non-parent, last Friday’s shooting sickened me and clouded my eyes with tears more than a few times. I cannot imagine (yet someday I hope I will) how all of you parents, especially those with elementary-school-age children felt.
I don’t easily shudder at news. Maybe that’s the way we’ve been forced to change, hardening our anti-emotional shells with every murder and otherwise seemingly senseless crime we see headlining nightly newscasts. I involuntarily shuddered several times over the weekend.
It felt like every hour from Friday morning to Saturday evening the tragedy became more personal (and I thank God it did not hit nearly as close as it came to the poor community just 20 miles away from us).
The death count started to take shape. I thought about all the youngsters and families I knew, both locally and in my family tree, and could not comprehend what was going on.
Then the first (yet incorrect) report of the shooter pinned the crime on my good friend’s freshman roommate at Quinnipiac, embattling my pal amid a social media lynch mob until the reports were corrected.
I turned my thoughts to the first responders, who are often more at my mind’s forefront because I have many in my immediate and extended family. Trying to imagine what they had to see was simply impossible.
Soon I thought of my uncle, a funeral director in Woodbury, who I figured would be charged with handling arrangements for at least a few victims. I will never know how he does it, but I remember asking him years ago if he ever allowed his emotions into the job at hand.
I will always remember his response: The day he stops feeling emotion will be the day he stops his work.
Later I saw a few Facebook posts from my friend and Republican-American photographer Jim Shannon, whose job required him to go to Newtown and visually document the situation. His posts indicated a sad, weary journalist who did not want to be there.
It’s easy to turn to the media and blame them in times like these, wanting them to go home and let these people get back to normal. Believe me, nobody covering this story wants to be there.
Finally, I thought of my old stuffed animal with which I used to sleep when I was younger to ward off nightmares. I haven’t seen it in years, but I dug it out Friday night. I needed it.
Soon the national discussion will slowly leave Newtown and creep to Washington, Hartford and other places. Hopefully our elected officials — two of whom were fantastic in their Newtown speeches — figure out everything.
But I ask that this week, with Christmas upon us, we all realize what we have. We have our families, our friends, our colleagues, our first responders and funeral directors, and our old stuffed animals.
Word from the Woods
The Hawks dropped their first two dual meets of the season, falling to Sacred Heart and Northwestern. Last Wednesday, the Hearts came away with a 77-71 victory in Waterbury. Event winners for Woodland included John Dyckman (500-yard freestyle), the 200 free relay team (Aidan Music, Alan Katrenya, Pat Dietz, Dyckman), Katrenya (100 breaststroke) and the 400 free relay team (Andy O’Dell, Lauren Tompkins, Pat Conway, Dyckman). On Tuesday, Northwestern beat Woodland, 93-80, in nonconference action. Event winners for the Hawks included O’Dell (200 free, 100 butterfly), Music (200 IM), Steve McCusker (diving), Tompkins (100 backstroke), Katrenya (100 breast) and the 400 free relay team (Dyckman, Music, Katrenya, O’Dell). Woodland lost to Pomperaug, 92-61, on Thursday in their final meet of the calendar year. The Hawks resume Naugatuck Valley League action Jan. 8 at Naugatuck.
The Greyhounds lost to Wolcott, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart, two of them coming by tight margins. Last Wednesday, Wolcott used a strong first half to knock off the Greyhounds, 39-35. Steph Lima led Naugy with 15 points while Ang Piccirillo added six. On Saturday, the Crusaders were too much for Naugy in a 45-31 win. Cross outscored the ‘Hounds 18-7 in the second quarter, which made most of the difference. Amy Dietz scored a game-high 18 points while Lima had seven and Piccirillo netted six. On Tuesday, a fourth-quarter lead slipped away from the Greyhounds as the Hearts rallied for a 38-36 victory. Lima led Naugy with 11 points while Sydney Cotto chipped in with 10 and Piccirillo had nine. The Greyhounds fell to Kennedy on Thursday, 54-43 and stand at 2-5 on the season. Their last game of the calendar year will be Dec. 27 against Wilby at home.