The shooting in Connecticut has shocked the world, but it has devastated those familiar with the “Dawson’s Creek” town of Newtown, says Hannah Litman, who spent idyllic childhood summers there.
Summers in Newtown amounted to nothing much, but it was their simplicity that made them all the more appealing: ice cream jaunts at dusk to Dr Mike’s ice cream store in nearby Bethel, pizza outings to Nick’s and afternoons at Chuck E Cheese.
The rest of the time, we were splashing around in nearby Lake Kenosha or at our friend’s pool in Newtown without a care in the world.
On Friday morning, as I embarked on a trip to Orlando with my two kids – a trip that was engineered to celebrate my own son turning seven – my mother and I were glued to the events as they unfolded. We couldn’t believe that something so atrocious, so shocking, so gut-wrenchingly saddening and sickening, could happen in the very neighborhood that, for us, harbours only cherished, wonderful memories of summer days, rites of passage – and above all, the love that can be shared between family and friends.
My grandfather was the preeminent orthodontist for the area, so everyone knew our name. A simple breakfast visit to local JKs Diner on Main Street wasn’t just about the pancakes, sausages and eggs we devoured, but rather the welcome with which we were greeted. If you’re thinking of the TV show Dawson’s Creek, you wouldn’t be far off.
Although I made that trip to Connecticut every year, it is only since moving to Miami six years ago that I was ever made so acutely aware of the right possessed by each and every American, to carry a firearm. In fact, I have never been made more conscious of the US gun laws than since I moved here.
You see, this horror isn’t just about gun laws. It didn’t take place in Miami, or any other major city where we begrudgingly acknowledge gun-toting is rife. This was Newtown, Connecticut: a simple, American town where the majority of citizens are middle-class, law-abiding men and women. And they still are. This was a town in which children could grow up traditionally and innocently. I pray to God they still can.
I would like to take this opportunity to pass my sincerest and deepest sympathies to the parents of Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler and Allison Wyatt.
Like many of them, I became a parent seven years ago when 2013’s first-grade class was born. I know the hope and light that was also born from that birth. I cannot imagine the darkness they are experiencing today and now must live with.
Since Friday I have not gone to sleep nor spent a day without thinking of them – their loss and the legacy their children have left behind.
To the families of Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel D’Avino, and Dawn Hochsprung – your wives and daughters are heroines. I pray that my children ever know just one teacher – or one woman – with the courage that they displayed.