It (was) Nicer in Newtown

I live in Sandy Hook, CT, a district of Newtown, CT. I moved here 21 years ago from the Midwest. A few days ago, if I told you where I lived, you probably would have confused it with Sandy Hook, NJ or not had a clue or any sort where we’re located. Today the world knows exactly where we are. They know we’re a tight-knit small town of 27,000 (well 26, 972 now). They see our quaint New England church steeples and clapboard sided homes, then images of our hometown Fire Station draped in Christmas lights. It’s charming. It’s a sweet place to live. It’s safe.

It’s the scenes of SWAT teams brandishing weapons, K9 patrol officers like our Felicia, sending commands to her German Shepherd to find the bad guy. It’s the scenes of the people of my community hunched over, grief stricken, crying. It doesn’t fit this town. This is not OUR town.

Our town motto is “Nicer in Newtown” not “The Town Where that Terrible Shooting Happened.”

I was in New York City on 9|11. I suffered through escaping the city, then suffered the fear of returning to work until I couldn’t take it any more and decided to work from home, giving up all my NY clients and most of my billings.

I’ve seen what guns do to people you love-so very dearly-the gore, the horror. There are images in my head I have to keep a bay or it will drive me mad…and now this.

Road to shooters home.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The view down Yogananda-about 1/2 mile from my house where the shooter killed his mother.

It was a brilliant, sunny morning with crisp blue skies. It was much colder but just as cheerful a day as on 9|11. Sam and I were driving to the town landfill to drop off our recycling. There was nothing out of the ordinary until we saw police cars with lights and sirens blaring, racing down Route 25. I wondered what was going on and not long after that my friend Mary called with the shocking news.

Later that day some of the details became clear—a monster had been unleashed on our town. No, it wasn’t Big Foot or Vampires or Zombies. It was much worse. This monster had no heart and a cache of guns. In cold blood he shot his Mother in the face, then drove to our little Sandy Hook Elementary and massacred some of the staff and twenty innocent children.

NBC NY.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This is too surreal. CNN, AP, all the CT stations and now NBC NY was there, too.

He is the kind of monster that keeps us up a night-the one who pops up in demonic-wear at a mall or in a movie theater and kills strangers for deranged reasons, who makes us not want to leave our homes, ever.

HE LIVED DOWN THE STREET FROM MY HOUSE.

One of my good friends told me her daughter went to school with him, but had no idea he would do such a thing.

Did I cross his path? Did he walk past my house as many of the local kids do? Did we see him on the road this morning between doing his terrible deeds?

Reporters on Yogananda.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Lined up and sniffing the air for news. I tried to stay off to myself, but some reporters heard me say something to Sam and that was it-I had microphones and cameras in my face even though I kept saying I had no story for them.

Adam Lanza took more than just lives, he took the heart out of our town and stomped on it. He must have been in such a rage, so unbalanced to do such a heinous act-at least that’s what I tell myself so I can find a shred of compassion for him. Who could do such a thing to little kids?

I don’t know his story. I barely know the details of what he did. I can only think about my friends and family, our adopters and their children. I contacted one particular family and discovered their son would have been in that classroom, but he was placed in another school even though his mom had wanted him to go to Sandy Hook Elementary. He’s barely five years old, with big blue eyes, straw blonde hair and pink plump cheeks. I thought about what could have happened to him today and I started to cry yet again.

PeiZhe Chang.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I couldn't find the correct spelling of her name, but this is Pei-Zhe Chang from WVIT our NBC affiliate.

I thought about the first day I met him. He reached up and held my hand, both surprising and delighting me. He barely knew me but trusted me to guide him along the sidewalk to a local shop while his mother and sister followed suit. How could I not love him right then and there?

I thought about all the parents in this town who are not so lucky tonight. They will never hold their child’s hand again or guide them, keeping them safe.

Guy walking his dog.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This guy was walking his dog and he was descended upon by news crews.

Tomorrow we find out who died and I hope it’s no one I know…but it also doesn’t matter if I know them or not. They are part of MY TOWN and their loss is mine. I share their tears and heartache and I yearn to find a way to make it better for them-to find a way to erase the stigma of what has been cruelly bestowed upon our town.

I’ve posted an invitation on Kitten Associates to anyone in Newtown with children over 4, who would benefit from a play session and petting session with our foster kitties. If they can’t come here I could go to any of the schools that need us and offer up the kitties to them to help ease their suffering. I know how wonderful kittens make me feel and I think it could help some kids remember that not every day is filled with fear or bad things.

I’m going to develop this program and possibly set it up so we can give the kids a stuffed animal when they leave so they have something to hug. I don’t know what more I can do, but I’m thinking about it a lot. I need to give back. I need to help. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.

Asking Trooper for Permission.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This woman's home was just pass the police tape. I helped her get the attention of the reporters and Troopers so she could go home. I felt so badly for her as she was quite upset.

I have a picture in my head that I can’t shake. A friend told me she spoke with a State Trooper who was in the school today—the same concrete and tile building where Sam and I once took Ballroom Dancing classes, the one that’s down the street from the Fire Station where we have Lobster Fest and Pancake Breakfasts to help raise money for our volunteer firefighters.

He said he’s seen some crazy things in his day, some true horrors, but what he saw today, that’s a new level of Hell.

He said the Kindergarten class was seated at their tables as if nothing was wrong—if you discounted the fact that they also happened to be dead where they sat.

The shooter must have gunned them down without hesitation, immediately upon entering the classroom. Those babies didn’t have a chance and now the first responders and families of the victims will have nightmares for the rest of their life and those of us who live in Sandy Hook, a district of Newtown, CT, will bear the scars of this day in their hearts.

It WAS Nicer in Newtown until 9:35 AM today. I know that one day it will be so, again, but right now it’s a Nightmare in Newtown, one that I wish I could wake up from soon.

This is so surreal, so wrong, so insane. I want to cry constantly. I need a hug. I’m afraid of what the news tomorrow will bring.

Today started off so happily. Spencer doesn’t have cancer. Jackson didn’t die on Tuesday. I transported a poor kitty to a rescue group so she would have a chance to find a new forever family and now none of that matters much and I wonder when things ever will again?

YOu are not alone copy.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.

Give everyone you know a big hug today. Treasure your life with all its complications. We have so much more than we realize, except on days like today when it’s clear how much we take for granted and how easily it can all slip away.

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Comments

Newtown

I'm so, so sorry. I wish nobody would have to endure what your community is enduring.  It must have taken a great deal out of you to share all this with us, but this is what we need to read and see.  I'm so sick and tired of the carnage in this country - it's disgusting and shameful. We fancy ourselves as the greatest country and we're fooling ourselves.  

I hope the cats and kittens in your care provide security and comfort to the children of the Newtown area.  I wrote an article for Examiner.com when I came upon the information about what you wish to do, and I've updated it as I found out more.

I'd like to know what I may do to help from my home in Michigan.  I saw on the Kitten Assocaites website that you need help with data entry. I'd like to help you so very much.

Your neighbors and you are in my heart.  

Thank you!

Please email me at info@kittenassociates.org Thank you Stephanie! Best, Robin

MAYBE THIS WILL WAKE AMERICA UP

Our animals teach us about unconditional love - and in your case about brushing cat hair....But yet, our pet loving country (over 60 percent of all families have at least one pet) happens to be among the most violent on the planet. Something is broken....it needs to be fixed. I'm a cat/dog behavior consultant, I don't have all the answers. But unless we try, what's to become of us. If we allow politics to get in the way - we may lose our way.

We are with you - and with Newtown.

So sad

 

I have no words.

We are here on the other side of the hemisphere, and when this horror was reportedly cried a lot, thinking about my daughter, the nightmare that these parents are going through.

Forces sweetheart.

A very strong hug.

very sorry

We have no words to comfort or encourage.  But all of you there are in our thoughts and prayers. 

RE: NEWTOWN

Just stopping by again to let you know you're all in my *PRAYERS* and thoughts.  I can't imagine how you must be feeling.  But I do know that, for me, the greatest healing power exists in snuggling with cats.  

Even this shall pass

I wish I could bring you comfort. I don't think anything I could say would make you feel better. What the gunman did he did to everyone, because it was such a shock. Even for me, thousands of miles away in Florida, and I have to write about horrible things every day.

Someday you'll be able to look at your town and be happy about living their again. Right now it's very hard. But one day it will be better. And all you can do is work to make sure no one died in vain. Even if it's just that you know your neighbors a little more than you did before.

My love and hope for you, and to your little town. The world is watching, and they grieve for you.

 

Christie from lifewithbeagle.com

I know many people want to

I know many people want to help. Most of us want to do something to help ourselves feel better. In this case, I think that's a bad idea. I think we NEED to hurt, and to feel that hurt for a long time. I think that it's only when we feel that hurt that we will begin the conversation on what we need to do to stop this insanity. 

Sending You a Big Hug

Dear Robin,

I'm so very sorry you are going thru this and my heart goes out to you and everyone affected by this unimaginable tragedy. Thank you for sharing your information with us and I'm sure writing about it, as much as you can, will help you work thru some of your grief.

Your cuddle-a-kitten project is wonderful and sure to help everyone who cries into their soft fur. It is a good way to offer help to many who are suffering and may help you regain a sense of control over your own space, which at the moment is shattered.

I am a survivor of a disaster situation (many years ago) and it does take time but you can find peace again. I recommend you tke all help offered to you and keep writing as much as you want. Writing is also a good therapy. Your kittens will be little life savers for you, as you see them bring smiles to distraught faces of those affected.

I'm so sorry this is happening. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Love and hugs

Michele & Pepi.  ((((HUGS))))

Sending You Love & Hugs, From Australia

Dear Robin,

I'm so very sorry you are going thru this and my heart goes out to you and everyone affected by this unimaginable tragedy. Thank you for sharing your information with us and I'm sure writing about it, as much as you can, will help you work thru some of your grief.

Your cuddle-a-kitten project is wonderful and sure to help everyone who cries into their soft fur. It is a good way to offer help to many who are suffering and may help you regain a sense of control over your own space, which at the moment is shattered.

I am a survivor of a disaster situation (many years ago) and it does take time but you can find peace again. I recommend you tke all help offered to you and keep writing as much as you want. Writing is also a good therapy. Your kittens will be little life savers for you, as you see them bring smiles to distraught faces of those affected.

I'm so sorry this is happening. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Love and hugs

Michele & Pepi.  ((((HUGS))))

Newtown

My deepest sympathies to you and the people of Newtown.  I will be praying for all of you at my church tomorrow in New York City.  I was immediately drawn to your blog because you are a "cat" person and I think the idea of kitten therapy for children is an excellent one.  I have two adult cats - but whenever I go to an adoption event and see kittens playing, they always make me smile. 

Thank you for sharing your personal perspective of what your town is going through right now. 

Friends needing Friends...

Dear Robin and Sam,

It is because of people like you, that we don't just lose hope about the future. I often say to people that I am glad I am 60 years old as I don't have a lot of hope for the future and compassion and love...and then I come to your page and read your words and know it is not hopeless...

I am proud to call you 'Friend'...

My heart breaks with and for you

Robin, I felt compelled to "friend" you on Facebook yesterday when I heard of all this. Somewhere in my mind I thought I remembered you saying in some of our correspondence that you were from this area. I immediately thought of you. I am sorry it took so long to make a Facebook connection.


Your words rocked me to the core. I really don't know what to say except I am praying with and for everyone, there, and everywhere affected by this, for some sort of peace.

Newtown

This has been one of the worst things ever.  My heart breaks for the kids who were killed, and especially for their families and friends who will grieve the loss for years to come.  Elementary graduation, high school, college, job, wedding, children.....


Robin, I love your idea of kitties.  We have no kitties or other animals, but I have 2 kids who have outgrown many stuffed animals, most of which are like new.   I'll see if there's a place I can send them.   Thanks for the idea.

Newtown

Robin

I am so very sorry to hear that this has happened. Happened at all in our country. Happened in a quaint small beautiful all American town such as yours. It is unspeakable sadness which is what I posted today. There is no amount of explanation that will make any of this make sense. Each time it happens it seems to always be the same thing. But that is for another time and discussion. Right now your community as with the rest of our great country must pull together and do the best we can. Saying prayers for all of those impacted and especially for the families grieving the losses they feel in their hearts. God Bless.

RE: Newtown

""Today started off so happily. Spencer doesn’t have cancer. Jackson didn’t die on Tuesday. I transported a poor kitty to a rescue group so she would have a chance to find a new forever family and now none of that matters much and I wonder when things ever will again?"  It matters tremendously, Robin!  It matters enormously, as it would have had nothing happened yesterday.  The lives and wellbeing of our loved ones matter MOST OF ALL, no matter what.  You know that.

As for the tragedy, I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that I'm in shock and severely traumatized as a result of this (and all of the other) seemingly senseless losses of life and destruction of peace and tranquility that occur with such frequency here and elsewhere.  So, I will not attempt to say more, except that you and the people of your community are in my thoughts and prayers.

Your therapy idea sounds wonderful, but please be extremely careful  of and for the kittens and their safety and wellbeing.  They are the most innocent, blameless, and beloved of all.

 

Your piece about yesterday's tragedy

Thank you, Robin.  You have given a voice to those who no longer have voices.

 Robin, I shared your story

 Robin, I shared your story on my FB wall. Hope you don't mind. I also love the pic so will use it wilth full copyright credit to you. Beautifully done story and graphic. 

Beautifully described pain

Thank you for posting this.  Every word you said about Newtown and Sandy Hook is so very true. The town is beautiful and so are the people that live there.  I have not lived there since the 70's, but it looks the same and I'm sure it felt the same until yesterday. My condolences ans sympathy to all the residents during this healing time. Much love and support from an old Sandy Hook resident and old student that attended the Sandy Hook school.  My thoughts are with you all.

No words. Just tears.

Robin, thank you for sharing this. I am so very sorry for your community and all the families affected by this shocking tragedy. I admire your ability to articulate your point of view in such an eloquent and moving fashion. I can't imagine. I just cant.

~Glogirly

My hug to you...

Robin – the pain of this horrific massacre is universal and I have no words or reasoning to ever explain, excuse, or justify what happened. Life will be tainted, trust will be cautious, and the desire to hide from it all will be strong. All we can do is hope and pray that we can find a way for this world to find some sanity and compassion… Beautiful, precious, innocent, wonderful human beings gone… some of them practically babies…  My heart is aching and I hope you can feel my hug for you across the miles…

My heart goes out to you

Hi,

I live near Chardon, where there was a school shooting too. Though I'm not a parent and didn't know the kids, it was such a devastating shock too..that this happened in a safe, beautiful place normally free of crime. May you and your community heal and help one another during this tough time. It's such a helpless feeling, for sure, to have this happen in such an unlikely place. RIP to those who died.


Sincerely,

Carolyn McFann

Of course it matters.

I can't imagine the grief suffered by the families, friends, even the "strangers" in your town and my heart goes out to you.

I was particularly struck by something you wrote:  "Today started off so happily. Spencer doesn’t have cancer. Jackson didn’t die on Tuesday. I transported a poor kitty to a rescue group so she would have a chance to find a new forever family and now none of that matters much and I wonder when things ever will again?"

Of course it all matters - and it matters a lot.  Allowing this tragedy to marginalize other's lives continues to give Adam Lanza power.  Loss of life, as terrible as it is, does not diminish the value of other life.  Continuing to help others and saving innocent lives is the best possible answer to a monster like Adam Lanza.  I'm not expressing my feelings very well, but it seems to me that after something tragic like this, saving lives matters more, not less.

Very nice piece.  The

Very nice piece.  The population adjustment in parentheses is a little tacky though.  

Newtown

My thoughts and prayers to everyone in Newton this day

All I can say is I'm so sorry

All I can say is I'm so sorry for what happened in your community. I pray that somehow the Lord can bring peace and comfort to you.

May you be blessed in your efforts with Kitten Associates to bring play sessions to these hurting kids. 

I wish I could say more...but I'm speechless and heartbroken. There are no words that can heal the hurt that happened yesterday.

Blessings,

Patty Thomas

what a wonderful idea Robin.

what a wonderful idea Robin.  I hope they take you up on it and it brings some smiles to faces that have every reason not to smile.

Kittens as Therapy

Robin:  The idea of the kittens as therapy is wonderful.  I hope it can be accomplished.    (My kitties always bring me such comfort.)  I cannot comprehend what you are feeling but know that all who follow you on FaceBook are holding you and your community up in our thoughts and prayers. <3

well put my friend.....

I think the idea of kitten therapy is brilliant. xo

signed,

tears streaming down my face....

Robin, we share your shock

Robin, we share your shock and grief. We're still dealing with the emotional aftermath of the mall shootings here in Portland, OR earlier this week. Your idea to use your kitties for therapy is excellent....go with it!  

Only tears

No matter what words are spoken I can not stop the fountain of tears that come out.  Im sorry for the familys, the neiighbors and the town who will all have to struggle to get through this.  Bless you Robin for offering kitty time - you are a light to some of these folks.   (((hugs))) to all of you in Sandy Hook.

I am so sorry for everything

I am so sorry for everything that happened to your community yesterday.  Please know that we too are heartbroken and that we mourn with you.  

Your idea for a kitten therapy program is wonderful.  I know it will benefit the kids so much.

Keeping you all in our hearts,

Michelle

I am so sorry for everything

I am so sorry for everything that happened to your community yesterday.  Please know that we too are heartbroken and that we mourn with you.  

Your idea for a kitten therapy program is wonderful.  I know it will benefit the kids so much.

Keeping you all in our hearts,

Michelle

thank you

Robin--Thank you for writing this. I live in Danbury and I know Newtown and Sandy Hook. I know what wonderful places they are--and how peaceful.  For years I have watched these horrors happen in other parts of the country. I have looked at the images on TV and wondered how something so awful could happen. I have looked at the faces of the peolpe in the addected towns and my heart ached for them. This is so different this time. I look at the faces and wonder if I have seen these parents in the grocery store, have I seen these children riding their bikes. I recognize all of the locations that I see on TV. Not from seeing the images over and over again on the news, but because I have been there. I. like you, feel like I don't want to leave my safe apartment today. Am I going to go to Stop and Shop and run into some other deranged person who decides that he doesn't like someone there and takes out his anger on innocent people? Am I going to be at work one day and hear a monster forcing his way into our small building? All of us in this area have lost a piece of our security and innocence. Our governor was tight yesterday when he said that evil visitied us yesterday.

Again, thank you for writing this and for helping me give words to what I am feeling.

Newtown

I am so sorry for what you and everyone in your community is suffering right now.  Words aren't enough, but know that just as you feel helpless and sick and compelled to help and comfort those who are at the eye of this storm, people outside Newtown feel that for you as well.  <3

 

Let us know if you need anything - if children start to take you up on the offer for play therapy, you may need $$$ for stuffed animals... you may need volunteers...

 

I'm in RI but I work in Mashantucket...

 

XOXO

Such tragic news

Oh my God! This just doesn't seem real - your little town! It's like if it happened in my small town I couldn't comprehend how such a thing could happen there.

I was so shocked when I heard the news here in the UK and realised it was where you live. 

Whatever could have happened to the shooter to twist his mind like that? His Mum - little children - how could he do it?

Your wonderful idea to get little children toegther with your kittens is a beautiful and compassionate one. It's such a thoughtful thing to offer when there seems little anyone can do to help ease the pain for those children. I hope it will give them some comfort and take their mind off the horror of that day.

Thinking of you all in Sandy Hook and sending my deepest sympathy to everyone who has lost someone.

 

Barbara UK

It will be better in Newtown again

Robin, it is hard for me to imagine all that you, and everyone in your town, must be going through right now. Just the pain and anger and grief. But, as you say, it will be better again. Much like the 911 attacks were not repeated over and over, this horrible thing will not happen in Newtown again. There's even less chance, and I know you know that. In the larger narrative, it will live on in "infamy", like Columbine - but Columbine is a real place, where people go on living, and it's only "Columbine", now, to the people who don't live there. Same with Newtown. It's way too soon, I know, to move on - it will be a long time before that happens. But fundamentally, unlike many places in the U.S., where every man, woman, and child does have to wonder if they might be hit by a stray bullet, or be assulted, or mugged, your town really is a good town, a safe place; a lovely spot. This unspeakable act is a one-off there, like a meteor, and as devestating and life-changing as it is, it can't truly touch what is good about the place you live. 

My deepest sympathy for you, and everyone there. Hang in there, and stay in touch. We are off in the virtual ether, but I know we all send you love and support.

Jynx

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