To the Editor:
Our mutual pain and suffering is what allows us Newtowners to clench hands in a large circle – all 27,560 of us. It’s easy for us to open up to one another because there is not a single person in that circle who cannot understand our pain. Anyone I talk to in that circle can in some way sympathize with me. This is what unifies us. But what happens when life’s forces pushes us out of that circle? Can anyone really understand us then? Is there anyone else out there we can lock hands with, look into their eyes, and tell our story to knowing that they will understand?
It’s unlikely. The reality is, nobody has been through what our town has. Sure, I can talk to a survivor of Columbine for days on end and we can agree on a plethora of things, but our stories will never exactly match. There are aspects so specific to Sandy Hook that only 27,560 of the world’s 7.5 billion people will ever truly understand.
Unfortunately, we can’t all hold hands in that circle forever. Forces will drive us in and out of that circle: college, work, vacation. The best we can do is to not only understand the outsider perspective and learn how to respond to it, but to also remember that there will always be someone in that circle that you can clench hands with when you need it.
I have hesitatingly left the circle a few times. I recently went to Boston for my college orientation. We were given nametags, which stated our hometown. Not a day went by where I didn’t get at least four taps on the shoulder from strangers, asking me if I’m from that Sandy Hook.
I, like many others, have experienced first-hand what it means to not be understood – it’s one of the worst feelings ever. As I’m on the verge of tears, they are standing there, nodding their heads and saying sorry. It aggravated me at first that they just don’t get it, even though they mean well. It’s something that we must learn to accept. Outside of our little Newtown circle, we may encounter questions that will stir our emotions. These can range from, “Did you know anyone?” to “Was it really a hoax?” We must learn not to take these sorts of questions to heart – it will only damage us more. The outsiders didn’t endure the same heartache we did. Just remember that they aren’t in our circle – they wouldn’t understand.
We all deal with it differently. Some of us tell our entire stories of where we were and what we were doing on December 14th, while others respond with a faint “thank you for your concern” and leave it at that. After having done both, I have realized the latter is far easier. I like to save the former for our circle, because that is where my words can be understood.
8 Charlies Circle, Sandy Hook July 30, 2013