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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Sandy Hook Revisited: Where Were You Last December 14?

Thought for the Day: As I mentioned, I have a new Dream Team of Interns helping me this summer. As I begin training them in the various tasks connected to my social media & event planning for my book, I have had them read my blog. I asked for their Input. They suggested Throwback Tuesdays & Thursdays as a way to showcase some of my past posts & revisit some of the events that I have written about before. Claire Freeman, my Human Resource Intern, who is also a psychology student, offered to write a piece for today. I was going to re-post one of my stories as well. When she said she had some personal experiences, which she could share, I encouraged her to write it. It was not until later that day when she forwarded me her story, that I understood why she had volunteered. Although I edited it, this is her story & I think you will appreciate it. I am fortunate to have Claire as a member of my Dream Team. Her sensitivity & concern for her camper & his family shine through. Here’s her guest post:

It was 2 PM on just another Friday afternoon In December. My hardest final was four hours away. Before making the trek from my dorm to a conference room to study for finals, I got a text from one of my friends. She wrote, "My school is in a lock down. I don't know what happened, but I'm okay." I brushed this off, thinking a lock down was not a big deal since at my high school lock down drills were routine. I met my friends, plugged headphones into my computer, & started studying. My only worry was how hard It would be to ace my research methods exam.

At around 3:30, I took a break. I opened Facebook to find a frantic message from my friend, "An armed man has opened fire in a classroom at the Sandy Hook Elementary School!" She & I had worked together at a day camp in Redding, CT for the past 4 years. My friend was in lock down at Newtown High School where she is a student. She also forwarded a link to a news website.  I watched in horror as one of my campers described what had happened on a news clip. I began counting how many of my campers went to Sandy Hook Elementary School. I asked my friend if they were okay.  My heart sank when she wrote back, "All but one are accounted for."  That camper was the son of one of the camp staff. His mother was the music & drama counselor. Not only was she was like a mother to all the campers, but she was also a maternal figure for the counselors. As the anxiety-filled hours crept by, I could not concentrate on my studies. At about 5:30, my friend sent me a three-word text, “He passed away.” In disbelief, I stared in shock at the words. I could not move.  

Somehow I forced myself to take my exam & drove home, but I could not keep my mind off my camper, their family, & the other victims. The next month felt like a bad dream. My fellow counselors & I met at one of the schools in Newtown to discuss what we could do for the family. Over the next few weeks we met, talked, went to vigils & attended our camper’s funeral. Driving through the center of Newtown was eerie. The sidewalks were lined with flowers & teddy bear memorials. This small quaint town was filled with camera crews & news teams from across the country & around the world. The entire town was in shock & mourning.

It has been six months since December 14th 2012. Camera crews have packed up & gone home. A stoic kind of a peace, or should I say a new normalcy, has been restored to Newtown. People go on with their day-to-day activities. There are soccer games, dance recitals & school graduations, but the events of 12/14 are still in the back of everyone's minds. The town has not really moved on, they are just trying to cope with what happened. Life goes on for me as well, but it has changed me. I still think about him & that day, which made me want to write about it on Dr. Lavi's blog.  Gun control has become a prominent issue, however this is not what I choose to focus on. Instead I want to keep my camper's memory alive. Although I will never forget this tragic day, I want to always remember how he thrived in life. He was such a sweet, energetic little boy who loved to sing Beatles' songs. He always made everyone smile & laugh. I hope you too will always remember the 14th of December. When you do, take a moment, hug your loved ones & remind yourself to live every moment to the fullest.



Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Douthitt said...

A good reminder! I'm a teacher, so I was at school when I heard. All of us teachers paused, became teary-eyed, then returned to the classroom. Sigh.

I can't imagine what the parents are going through. It is good to be reminded to STOP and pray for them. The hurt continues, but so does the healing...

Barbara Lavi said...

Thank you, Ruth, for sharing, caring & for teaching our children every day. It must have been hard for every teacher to continue working after hearing such tough news. I speak with so many teachers & parents who were & are still very upset by the event. We were all traumatized & need to continue to do what we can to make the world safer for our children.