Sunday, December 16, 2012

Their Names

On Sunday mornings Drew and I drop by the corner Starbucks for coffee, a pastry and a New York Times, then cross the street to a bench in City Hall Park.  Today is cloudy with a chilly mist saturating the air, so we opt to find a warm spot by the window.  Drew orders while I pick up the paper.  The headlines hit me.  My hand covers by heart. I shake my head.  I start to cry.

Of course, I have heard of the shootings at the Newtown, Connecticut school, the statistics of 20 children and 6 adults killed.  But numbers don't impact like names.  I can't read them.

I think of my own classes of kindergarten and second graders in past years, gathered on the floor for  Morning Meeting, busy with projects around the room, cuddled up in corners with favorite books.  Then I imagine a man with a gun at our classroom door.  The terror, the helplessness, the responsibility for those little lives, of wanting to protect, grip my chest.

I fold up the paper, shove it across the table.  While I can make the imagined scene go away, the bad dream disappear, teachers and students at Sandy Hook Elementary lived it. And died.

Their names make the horror real.  I must read them.  I must allow myself to feel the pain, to share in the collective pain and grief that we all must feel.  So we can become their advocates.

I look up past my coffee cup, through the window to the top of City Hall.  The flag flies at half mast.

For Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, Ms. Davino, Ms. Hochsprung, Ms. Murphy, Ms. Rousseau, Ms. Sherlach, Ms. Soto and the mother of the gunman, Ms. Lanza.


  1. I still just cannot fathom this. Like you, I imagine my own little classes...and my own daughter in there. It's just a senseless evil.

    I hope the flags remain at half-mast for 26 days.

    And, oh, I hope those families find a way to heal.

  2. I've heard from several teachers who have had similar thoughts. We can all imagine how those CT teachers must have felt in that one instant of realization.

    1. Twylla,
      Thank you for for sharing this beautiful blog. Our hearts and prayers are with these families.

  3. Twylla, that was the most beautiful and moving elegy. Thank you for your contribution on helping us to heal.

  4. Twyla,

    I had the same reaction to the names this morning. Of course, so many kids I have had in classes over the years in kindergarten and fourth grade have the same names, and seeing them listed there was heart-breaking. I would like to take them all into my arms.

  5. Well said. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  6. Thank you for your expression of the unexpressable. This morning I stopped as I saw the newspaper on the ground outside our apartment building entrance and the names read like those of my sons classroom. Without photos they became universal. It is gutting and utterly heart wrenching. There is a vigil being held in our hearts tonight.


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