The list is complete

When I wrote this blog the other day, there were two children on the victims list of the Sandy Hook massacre for whom photos and personal details had not been released. It bothered me that my list was incomplete. Many people commented that they just couldn’t watch the news or listen to any coverage of this tragedy, and I get that. It’s curious to me that our society seems torn between a perverse curiosity into the intimate details of strangers’ lives (the prevalence of celebrity worship and the relentless paparazzi come to mind), and an instinctive urge to turn a blind eye to the searing pain that comes from seeing — really seeing — the hard-core bad stuff out there. We have an instinctive impulse to protect ourselves from stuff that hurts. We rubberneck as we pass traffic accidents, hoping to glimpse the smashed cars, yet we shrink away from the gory details of what really happened inside Sandy Hook Elementary School as if being uninformed can keep the tragedy at arm’s length. There’s no judgment here, just my perception.

While my first instinct was to avoid the news and shut out any mention of Sandy Hook, it was equally important to me to learn something about each victim. As if my “knowing” them, in snippets and from afar, could connect me to the people suffering the most wrenching loss imaginable. As if learning a couple of facts or insights into who they were would allow me to share in the grief and somehow comfort those affected from 1,700 miles away. It doesn’t make much sense, but there it is. That is why I wanted to feature each victim individually and to uncover a little bit of personal info about them. I didn’t know any of the victims personally, nor do I know anyone in Newtown, CT, but as a parent — as a member of this human race — I felt compelled to showcase each of the victims.

To complete my list from the other day, here is Madeleine Hsu399225_451374501587568_547153531_n

and Allison Wyatt. allison-wyatt-4_3_rx512_c680x510


Both photos come from the Facebook page In Loving Memory of Sandy Hook Elementary Victims.

A blogger I greatly admire and whose words always ring true for me wrote this about the tragedy at Sandy Hook:

“The only way for those left behind to survive something like this is when the rawness begins to subside, to adapt rather than crumble – in no way an easy thing to do. The unfortunate reality is that the 27 innocent lives cannot be brought back and the tragedy cannot be erased. As a community, a collective of humans, we need to absorb what happened and adjust our lives around it. To harp on the tragedy and let it define us will do no good. Rather, we need to define what our lives will be in spite of this tragedy. We need to sharpen our focus, reassess our priorities and make an even more concerted effort to love and let ourselves be loved, as that is what makes the world function. Let there be so much kindness that there is no room for hate.”

I love her idea of sharpening our focus. And her proclamation for us to “let there be so much kindness that there is no room for hate” is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.

My list is now complete.


6 Comments on “The list is complete”

  1. Thank you for honoring these beautiful children. As an educator, mother and human being, my heart breaks for the families. In fact, it breaks for all of us. As the adults, we are all entrusted to care for our children, all children, and it seems we keep failing them…

  2. David Benbow says:

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. They could be pictures of any of my children’s friends.

    My father-in-law has a bumper sticker that reads “Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O’Donnell fat.” Whatever you think of Rosie, they don’t make semi-automatic spoons with 100-round magazines. If they did, they’d be outlawed as contributing to the obesity crisis. Yet people are so afraid to restrict anyone’s right to own assault weapons.

    I didn’t mean to get preachy, but I’ll just say that no matter what kind of background check you create, there’s no guarantee that a sane, stable person will stay that way. I’m done.

  3. Eddie says:

    It’s not about guns or gun control. I say that as someone who has never owned a gun and has no desire to own one. Nor is this simply about better care or control of the mentally ill. I truly believe it comes down to us seeing each other as a fellow human being, not a foreign “other”. We have the potential to be so much more than we are, but we must demand it of ourselves instead of shifting the burden to others. Little will change until we move from identifying the problem as something external from ourselves and begin seeing ourselves as the source of the solution.

  4. mmr says:

    Thanks for a beautiful piece and for the photos to remind us. And some of your words ring so true for not just this tragedy. This tragedy of losing children and loved ones is one of those things where we can say “wow, I’d rather have breast cancer”. But just this morning one of my best friends found out that she will need a double mast. And some of your words ring so true in her case too. I figured from everything I’d read online and in the Love book about her type that this was going to be the outcome. She knew those things too, but kept thinking no, the biopsy would say something different and she would “just” need lumpectomy. She and I both did exactly as you talked about: “We have an instinctive impulse to protect ourselves from stuff that hurts”. And the other blogger has inspiring words that also apply to BC: “The only way…to survive something like this is when the rawness begins to subside, to adapt rather than crumble – in no way an easy thing to do.” That is applicable for life after any sort of trauma, death of loved ones or death of parts of yourself and who you used to be. I think of those families and truly, truly hope that they will make it as quickly as possible to a more peaceful place in their hearts and minds.

  5. Amy H. says:

    As usual, your blog is inspiring and you’ve helped me face my fears yet again. I am thankful that you posted about these children because my natural instinct at a horrible tragedy like this is to put my fingers in my ears and say, “la la la la la la” not so much to keep uninformed but more to protect my heart from experiencing pain yet again from the reminder of my brother’s unexpected & tragic death. It just hurts for me to go there but because of your respect and love for these families and their loss, I was able to grieve for them–and again for me.

    I love your friend’s post–I was trying to explain something like that to a friend the other day. We’ve also had this very discussion, I’m pretty sure. These horrible things that happen–deaths, crises, diagnoses, crippling injuries, even personal mistakes of our own doing…they can define us, and we can remain bitter and angry about it, which in essence animates this “thing” and gives it control over us. That’s really the easy way, the more expected way and the way many people go with it. It is deemed acceptable to be bitter and angry since our “thing” is certainly reason enough for us to be that way. OR, we can let this thing be only a PART of our definition–not THE definition, and just a part of what makes us who we are and we can somehow find perspective and become a better person. And IN SPITE of the “thing” move in the direction that’s harder to choose and the more unexpected response–the path of finding joy, love and peace in life again in the face of these things—preventing our hearts from any additional scarring that bitterness and anger can bring. Our hearts, bodies and lives are definitely scarred from these experiences. The way we react to them can either create additional mental scars from constantly reopening that mental wound or provide a salve that changes that mental scar from being red, puffy and extremely noticeable to a lightened and smooth indication that something significant occurred–much like a real scar–but we found a way to live with it, learn from it, ultimately becoming a better person because of it. It’s definitely OK to revisit these “things” and be angry about it—I call that wallowing when I do it–and I do wallow at times; but when we find ourselves wallowing less and less often and viewing it more distantly and with less emotion as more of a catalyst in our lives, then it no longer controls us. It no longer controls ME and I can love, relate and accept others with the experience and perspective of my “things” and what dealing with them taught me. I am a better person IN SPITE of them! I wouldn’t wish these things on me or others and I’m not thankful for them, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to challenge myself to embrace the positive in an otherwise extremely unfortunate situation. I’m not happy about this but how can I learn from it? This is not what I expected or would choose, but how can I learn from it? He should not have died this way, is there anything I can learn here? My leg will never be the same, how will I cope with this physical limitation? I was a horrible friend that time, how can I use this experience and utter disappointment in myself to be the best friend I can be moving forward? I have no control over this person or this situation but what do I have control over? Usually my reaction or attitude and that’s about it. I can go on and on here…..

    These families have been in my thoughts all throughout this holiday season. New normals are very difficult especially when they are forced on you with no chance to recover the old normal. I know this from experience and am devastated for them knowing what they are experiencing at this stage in their grief.

    Thanks again, Nancy, for a great post. I value your friendship!

  6. Kari says:

    I found your blog looking for sandy hook tributes. Beautifully done indeed. I can’t stop crying.
    I also discovered you are a fellow breast cancer survivor. I’m nearly 9 years out. I don’t discuss it much but I had a mastectomy also and just wanted to touch bases with you and share journeys. I was 29 and pregnant. Did the whole surgery and chemo shabang. Very grateful to be alive. Life is fragile. Much love to you! Feel free to email me. 🙂

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