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The Saddest Place on Earth. Sandy Hook, CT 2 of 2

I started sobbing. It came on so fast, from such depths of despair that I had no time to stop it. I tried to cry quietly. There were so many members of the Press around me, sniffing out stories. I didn’t want to be seen, I just wanted to grieve. I saw all the little teddy bears, in groups of 20, the candles, the cards with messages of blessings and love, the drawings by children-for children. It was real. I could not deny it any longer. I kept on sobbing.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The road to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Seeing something unfold on television is safe. It’s not really happening because it’s on TV and you’re home in your living room where nothing bad is going to happen to you. Seeing Anderson Cooper standing up the street from the Sandy Hook Diner makes no sense, but he’s on TV so he’s not REALLY here.

It’s very difficult to describe just how surreal the past few days have been for me. Everywhere I go I see the Press or endless traffic in a town with only a few decent north-south running roads and glorified horse trails for the roads the run east-west. I kept seeing faces I recognized, but not because they were my friends, it was because they are reporters.

Sandy Hook School Sign R.Olson.jpg
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Just steps away from this sign our hearts were broken and our community was laid waste.

I saw license plates from all over the tri-state area. I heard voices speaking French, Spanish, Japanese and I think some sort of African dialect. They are all here to witness and perhaps see for themselves that this really happened. I don’t want to think badly of them. Maybe they’re exactly like me, grieving and they just live further away. I fear they are just riding some sort of terror-tourism bus here, at least that’s what Sam calls it. I want to think better of people than that, but I worry that too many of them just want to grab a chance to be on TV.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. How about “No Media” at all?

I gathered myself and dried my tears, wishing I had a tissue in my pocket as my Mother always taught me to do. I thought of my Mother and wondered what she’d make of all this. She would have been taking photos and talking to people but her heart was already so broken by my Father taking his own life-using a gun-that I doubt she would have let her emotions get the better of her.

I tried to take some photos, but my hands failed me. I pressed the shutter release and heard the whirr of the motor capturing the image. I didn’t even look through the viewfinder. I was a robot. I just couldn’t do more than that.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. There are no words.

A cold mist was falling and I wasn’t wearing a coat. I shivered, but kept on. I crossed the street and headed up Dickenson Drive, to the last place on Earth 20 little children and six adults were last seen alive—Sandy Hook Elementary.

The path was up a steep curving hill. The first thing I saw was an old graveyard off to the left. I couldn’t help but see the sad irony of it being so close to the school. The grave stones were darkened, weathered, their engravings softened, the names forgotten by decades of rain. I thought about all the funerals to come and how one day, many decades from now, this probably would be forgotten, too.

I walked on a short distance and saw the Christmas trees-26 donated by some people in North Carolina. Each tree representing a loss. Each tree covered with little plush toys and more messages of love. I wish there were 27 trees because Mrs. Lanza deserves our love and a tree, too…in truth even the shooter does. Though I find it very difficult to have compassion for him, as we all do, as a Buddhist, I must try. We all suffer. We all cause pain and feel pain. He may have been suffering in an unimaginably extreme way and clearly he was very seriously mentally ill to open fire on such innocents. But where was his support? Why did he feel the need to act out as he did?

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The 26 Christmas trees by the school.

I thought to myself; “What if I was so sick that I did something like that?” No one is pure evil. In his heart, somewhere was love, even if it was just a grain. If I was the shooter I would have wanted someone to love me, to help me through my pain, but I know it’s NOT as simple as that. We don't know who he was and we may never know why he did what he did. The act was completed in moments, but the pain will have a ripple effect for MANY years to come.

I don’t claim to be an authority on the shooter by any shape or form. I just know I need to be a better person and to be more compassionate to everyone if I can.

I want to find a way to not imagine him twisting on a spit, with his skin blistering off in steaming shreds somewhere in Hell, but I’m not there yet. This tests us all.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nice and tidy now, but as of tonight (Monday) you can barely make out any single object the shrine is so huge.

I stood by the sign for the Sandy Hook Elementary School that has now become the icon representing this tragedy. As I stood there, I watched some workers with a truck filled with palettes. I believe they were taking the memorial items and placing palettes beneath them to keep them better preserved, but I’m not sure about that. As the workers moved the palettes into position, one of them began using a pneumatic nail gun to fix one of the structures. The loud “pop, pop, pop!” startled everyone. I immediately stiffened, feeling utter revulsion at how thoughtless they were.

I decided I’d had enough and began to walk back to my car. I couldn’t help but pass by the first memorial set up by the river. I stopped, watching a young boy place a basket of flowers by yet another Christmas tree. There was a little girl standing in front of me with her mom. Once again, I started to sob. I was embarrassed to do it in front of a stranger, but she quickly turned to me and said;

“I don’t know you, but I want to give you a hug.” She was crying, too.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. I met the child who drew the sign in the middle of the image that says; “May God Protect You.”

We hugged and I thanked her. I asked her about her children and found out she lives here in town, too.

I told her about the Kitties for Kids program to help out the kids of town by inviting them to come pet our foster kitties and she thought that was a great idea. Her daughter turned to me and told me she loved kitties and would love to meet them.

I gave the woman my card and invited to her visit. I told her I needed to find some teachers so I could donate this load of plush kitties we’d been donated. I was so happy to imagine I could help these people that as I began the walk back to my car I was smiling, even though my heart was still heavy.

What is clear in all of this is that there’s only one thing that will help us survive the coming days and that's love. Love in its truest form-not asking for love in return, not neurotic or tied to hope or fear, just love. The love from our friends and our community, our human bond throughout the world. I've been uplifted by how powerful love is-it trumps all the bad, all the evil, all the heartache. Love is our salvation.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hug a Teacher and hug everyone else, too.

We just have to learn to be better about expressing it and sharing it and instead of being more fearful of each other, I think we need to open our arms and really help each other. We have to remember to love each other, especially those of us who get labeled as “misfits” or “social outcasts.” We all just want to belong and I think in feeling left out it is so painful that it becomes too tempting for some of us to act out in rage as a result.


I got back into my car and drove to NVS. I paid Shorty’s bill and met this cat who was very close to being euthanized. Now Shorty had a new lease on life thanks to our donors and my late night efforts. Shorty rolled around on the floor, with the catheter sticking out of his front leg. I rubbed his belly, then I noticed something odd. He was leaking tapeworms out of his rear end.

In some bizarre way those little white flecks reminded me that life goes on, cats need rescue, I need to do my job. “They” need me and now my town needs me, too. I know the only way I will ever feel happy again is by helping others-those furry and those not.

And yes, get Shorty de-wormed, stat..


As I get to know you, you continue to amaze me! Your heart is in your words and your love it true...There is hope for the future, because of you...

I want to thank you so very much for sharing you feelings of all of this. And a first hand account. You are right in a way it is very hard to imagine because all I do is see it on tv. My heart aches for those parents, children and the towns people who have to go on without their friends, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, neighbors ect. After all this is over .. the really hard part will start. I will continue my prayers for His healing and His peace on through that time. My thoughts are with all of you. 

Such a poignant, beautifully written piece straight from the heart. Made me weep sitting at my desk here at work - and if anyone had seen me I wouldn't have been embarrassed to explain why and I think they would have cried with me.

Love and deepest sympathy


Barbara UK

i cant make any comments on guns because that is not the issue. my comment is that i hope all the people who lost children,

friends and relatives, along with the townsfolk of sandy hook heal from this tragedy and great loss. i pray the souls of all to be

healed to god through thier hearts. i can only believe it has left everyone with an emptiness in thier lives and that everyone

needs to pull together to help eachother. please leave the bitterness out of your hearts. i can tell you personally that the

bitterness only prlongs the suffering. let it go and try to keep your heart free to heal . i share my love to help you all heal

as all should do together. pull together as a community to help those that lost so personally. i know as i have sufferd longer

due to the bitterness of how i have lost a sister and a brother to the hand of another. let the bitterness go no matter how hard

and your heart will heal.

Oh, Robin, I'm so very sorry for your loss.  How beyond endurance it must be for you to have to experience these present events.  Words fail me; but I hope that all will be made whole in due time, that is now broken.  

I agree with most of your thoughts, and also would add that the father of the perpetrator perhaps deserves thought as well as the brother; it's unimaginable what they must be going through and will have to go through every day for the rest of their lives.  They, too, have lost.

Finally, words being inadequate, I'll just add my *PRAYERS* for all, and special ones as well as healing thoughts for brave little Shorty.  Poor sweet boy!  May he soon be on the mend and comfortable from whiskers to tail. (O) (^^)

Thank you, Robin, for your heartfelt comments. It helps me, and probably many who are far from Connecticut, comprehend what is happening and better understand and identify with the unimaginable pain of your town. Bless you and the kitties, and all who are working to make this tragedy more bearable.

Just stopping by to say that my thoughts are with you and those of your community on this very, very sad day.  May we make the effective changes needed to ensure that we never again have to endure the unendurable.  My prayers are with you.  

And I hope Shorty is doing well.  Best to you and all of your loved ones.

Our *PRAYERS* and thoughts of healing for you and all in your community continue.  

Robin, first of all I want to thank you for what you're doing with the kittens in Newtown. They will provide comfort and smiles for those who spend time with them, and they will absorb tears, too, I'm sure - just as my cat's fur did when I heard the horrific news.

Your remarks about seeing things on TV really hit home for me because my great-niece, Vicki Soto, was one of the teachers murdered on that day. After I learned the awful news from my brother, I was glued to the television over the next few days, searching for a glimpse of my brother, Vicki's parents, and her siblings. It is one thing to hope for a glimpse of a friend or relative in the stands at a televised sporting event; it is entirely different when you see someone you love, their face contorted in grief because the unspeakable has happened.

Vicki's wake and funeral in Stratford were grief-filled, heartbreaking affairs. But in the midst of that, there was also beauty . . . and hope. Her wake was scheduled for five hours, but it lasted until nearly midnight, as 4600 people came to pay their respects. Law enforcement officers stood at attention on the porch of the funeral home, and one stood as honor guard at the head of her casket.

The next morning, dozens of law enforcement officers, on motorcycles and in squad cars, from several nearby towns and UConn, accompanied the funeral cortege and blocked off every side street. The procession from the funeral home to the church was humbling and awe-inspiring, as we passed "ordinary" people lining the sidewalks in groups of a few or a dozen. Men stood with their hats and/or hands over their hearts. Women blessed themselves. Firefighters stood at attention in front of their firehouse. Employees of a restaurant stood in the cold, the wind whipping their white aprons around their legs. Postal employees gathered in a blue-shirted group close to the curb. Customers and employees of a deli stood in front of the store. There were signs: "Hug a teacher." "Our hearts are with you." "In loving memory." One of the most touching sights, which caused a sob I couldn't hold in, was a huge American flag suspended high over the roadway from two hook and ladder trucks; the procession passed directly beneath the flag in absolute silence.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the church; I wondered how long they'd been waiting there in the cold and wind blowing in off the Sound; they must have known there would be no room for them inside, but still they waited for her. And they were still there when the service ended more than an hour later.

i have never witnessed such an outpouring of grief, respect . . . and love. It did not erase my sadness, but it gave me a feeling of warmth, and of hope. But why do we come together so beautifully in tragedy, demonstrating the very best of our humanity, but yet are unable to treat one another with love, compassion and understanding in our day-to-day lives? Unless and until we can do that, I fear these awful events will continue.

My heart aches for what those of you in Sandy Hook and Newtown have experienced, and will continue to experience: I cannot imagine how all of those funerals, the media attention, and the memorials have torn at you all. But you are there for one another; I hope knowing that people all over the world are here for you, as well, provides some measure of comfort.

Thank you, too, for your care of Shorty; I hope he makes a full, speedy, and uneventful recovery, and finds a loving forever home very soon.



Dear Bobbi, Thank you for taking the time to share your personal account of loss and heartache. I'm so very sorry your great niece, Vickie Soto was killed. From what I read about her she sounded like an angel on Earth, truly devoted to caring for the children in her classroom and for making their lives better and for giving them a great start in life. Tomorrow is the first day at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Yesterday, a girl from 2nd grade was here with her family. She's scared to go back to school and took part in our Kitties for Kids program. I made sure she got one of our K.T. Cat therapy plush toys and she and her mother spent some time with it in private, with out foster kitties. By the time they left I could tell the child had more confidence about going back to school. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be. I made sure she got lots of hugs and reassurance that we're here for her and her family and the other families in Newtown who need us. You lost a treasured family member and our community lost someone who would have made the lives of countless children so much better. I know we are struggling with ways to continue to honor the fallen and hold close the survivors. I hope we all learn from this-that we DO need to be warm and loving to each other, whether we are old friends or strangers on the street. I got a hug from a woman when I was at the Memorial. I don't know her name but she saw me crying and came over to me and said she was going to hug me if that was okay. I hope some day we live in a world where we don't even have to ask. Our arms are always open to each other because in the end-we need each other. We can't live in a cell without interaction. it's how we're wired. Let's find a way to tear down the walls of fear and open up a path to compassion and love for everyone. I know that words don't fix anything, but please let your family know we are so very sorry for their loss and that if any of them would like to come visit our kitties and take part in our Kitties for Kids program, that I hope they will contact us at Warm hugs and my best to you and your family during this heartbreaking time. Robin

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