I’m From Newtown

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Tonight, as we were Christmas shopping for his younger brother Chase, eight-year old Cole asked me this.

“Mommy, what did you think when you first saw me?”

Two heart-draining, soul-breaking days after twenty precious children the same age as Chase lost their lives in a horrific way.

In the home of my childhood…in a school where I spent six years walking familiar, safe halls, laughing and learning and making friends, where I skipped around blacktop and played the recorder in music class and drew picture after picture of horses and farms and grew into who God planned for me to become.

Oh, Newtown. My heart aches and aches with you and yours and over those short, precious lives.

Twenty precious children.

20.

No, no.

Lord, rain your grace on them. Like a healing flood, pour it out.

What did you think when you first saw me?

And I wonder beyond Cole’s question…how can they say goodbye?

Lord, I know Your mercy is in the heavens and I know those children are in Your Son’s arms now. Safe. They’re safe, but their parents…please guard those parents from the last images of their children and instead paint the beauty of their births, of their precious and unique lives and smiles fully and completely across the horizon of their memory.

Oh Newtown, home of my heart, what pain stretches across your beautiful green trees and haphazard hills, sharp and steep and perfect for sledding? What anguish traces your winding roads and brick-front buildings and friendly parks?

Twenty precious children.

My eyes pour out what is tight and close to my heart. Emotion and memory wrap into the deep pain permeating the sweet little town of my childhood, where I slipped between trees and climbed rocks bigger than a truck with Veronica and Mindy and learned to read and write and swing upside down on monkey bars with Katie. Where I counted dandelions with Wendy and prayed the child’s prayer of “let it snow tonight” and skipped between large green footprints tracing the parking lot at school, footprints left by the mysterious Jolly Green Giant before the annual fair. Where I learned to love the written word in the Sandy Hook Elementary School library and tried to find out where in the world Carmen Sandiego was on computers that would confound and frustrate today.

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Sandy Hook, where I was nurtured and encouraged into my God-ordained gift of writing by my 5th grade teacher Cathy Mazzariello, who owns my lifelong gratitude and whose name will appear on the dedication page of my first published book. Where I watched my teachers hug and weep at the Challenger’s explosion and learned against my wishes to square dance in the gym and multiply too many numbers and where I wrote a twelve-page book called Attack of the Killer Onions.

Oh, Newtown. Not you. Not them.

Twenty precious children. 20.

Memories flash bright and beautiful like the fireworks at the Newtown Golf Course on the 4th of July, their vibrant colors reflecting off the Town Park Pool where Kellie and I spent hours doing hand stands and diving board cannonballs and daring to touch the bottom under the dock. Where we played Red Rover on grassy fields dotted white with clover and ate ring pops reflecting summer’s golden light and spent one whole dollar to watch movies from the Town Hall balcony.

Oh, Newtown.

I think of Chase, our six-year old first grader, and my heart splinters off pieces again, knowing one of the children killed shared his name while another child shared his birthday.

Lord, rain down Your grace and peace over Newtown. Over the schools and hurting people and Ram’s Pasture and over the beautiful New England homes and the Ice Cream Parlor and the Blue Colony Diner and everywhere. Comfort the broken-hearted as only You can.

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Oh, Newtown.

Twenty precious children.

What did you think when you first saw me? Cole asked, a curious smile in his voice.

“Daddy and I fell in love with you. We fell in love with you and Chase when you were born, and nothing will ever change that.”

 

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5 thoughts on “I’m From Newtown

  1. Dear Kerry,
    This is amazing. I have been thinking of Mindy and your family who were a huge part of my childhood. Just a month or so ago, I commented on Mindy’s facebook page that I wanted the recipe to your mom’s egg/quiche dish she used to make on Saturday mornings when I would sleep over. I can add to this…what your family meant to me…sleepovers…taffy the dog..the woods behind your house. Vitamins by my breakfast plate..trick or treating with PILLOWCASES! haha so many amazing memories with my good friend Mindy “RED” as my Dad used to call her. Not the mention the time she and I went wading in our brook behind my house in the dead of winter..There are six children living at 38 Great Ring Road now I found out. I wonder if they too will mistakingly bake brownies without greasing the pan, but eat them anyway. Oh, and my slumber parties…Mindy putting balloons down her shirt and freezing my “unmentionables” onto a turkey in my freezer as a joke….I will be in CT over the holidays. I wish you guys were there…but I know your hearts are there. God bless the Vermillion family.

    Becky

  2. I don’t even know how to respond, other than you captured something extremely moving here. I cannot believe the immeasurable pain of the parents right now…

  3. My heart goes out to the many who are aching in the face of this tragedy. Having lived in Newtown and attended Sandy Hook, your pain must be intense, Kerry.

    We think such things can’t happen in our towns, but they do. A custodian shot and killed the beloved principal at the elementary school my daughter attended just a couple of years ago.

    What brings me comfort is knowing that the Lord is in control–even when the world around us seems out of control. I cling to Him.

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