THE NEWTOWN BEE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012
The Healing Begins Throughout The Town BY KENDRA BOBOWICK Newtown forever changed Friday morning, December 14, but by the next day, townspeople had begun the hard work of recovery by gathering together and showing signs of support for their community. “Please pray for Newtown,” said a handwritten sign on the front window of Sabrina Style on Washington Avenue, and in another window: “God bless Sandy Hook.” Crowding the streets and sidewalks were residents reaching for one another, embracing, grieving, and stopping at the many handmade vigils and signs going up. Store owner Irene Caulfield arranged bunches of flowers on a bench, then reached up to tape a message written by her daughter Katy, 22, which said, “Sometimes we find ourselves so busy that we forget to say goodbye to our loved ones before we leave for work … sometimes we forget to take a few minutes out of our day to give affection to our dog or send a birthday text. “However, when we are confronted with a tragedy of this magnitude so close to home it makes us stop in our tracks. We automatically call our friends and families, give a hug and kiss and tell someone we love them.” She wrote that we all need to slow down our lives and take time to appreciate our loved ones, “each and every moment. Life is short, fragile, if you don’t do it now, you may never get another chance.” “It’s so beautiful,” Ms Caulfield said. Propped on the curb outside Sandy Hook Wine & Liquor was a large, handmade Flag of Honor, remembering those killed, “Now and forever.” In small type the sign said, “It will represent their immortality. We shall never forget them.” A few feet away were college seniors and residents David Quinn and J.R. Shine. Wearing Santa hats, they put out a collection bucket to gather funds to support the families. Standing with a sign of his own across the intersection was Groton resident Gabriel Bevan, who knows no one in town, but who offered his own support. His sign said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you … may the Lord and His angels wrap His arms around you and provide you with comfort.” Spray painted on a sheet hung outside the Stone River Grille was the message, “Hug a Teacher Today.” Another sign hung nearby read “God Bless Sandy Hook.” On Riverside Road hung on the Apex Glass Sign was another note: “We Love the teachers and children of Sandy Hook,”
signed by The Apex Glass Family. Visible beyond the sign and clogging the road into Sandy Hook Center was a stream of out-of-town news media, mixing in with mourners carrying flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, and small signs of their own. Many placed these small children’s gifts at the base of the Sandy Hook Elementary School sign on Riverside Road. Next door at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company garage, company members grabbed 26 evergreen trees that are on the lot for sale for Christmas, propped them in stands, and lined them up on the corner. Soon, busy hands worked to adorn those trees with teddy bears and Christmas decorations. Across the street from the firehouse, as with Sandy Hook Center, was a sea of broadcast media. Crowding those residents who were out Saturday to grieve and find comfort in their neighbors was the media swarm representing television stations around the world. Their crews had descended on this small community seeking live footage. Inside St John’s Church during a service meant for prayer and healing at noon Saturday, the media loomed. With her cheeks stained with tears, Sandy Hook resident Mary Fellows told the crush of cameras and reporters, “The kids
seem quiet and disconnected. That’s not okay.” She said, “It’s about change and that has to start now.” Crying, she said, “Put your cameras down and take it in.” Making a point that was on many minds in the shooting’s aftermath, she said, “Everybody [in the community] is connected somehow. I went to Sandy Hook School. My daughter went to Sandy Hook School … let the
change start. Let’s change today. Today.” On the streets people wept openly. People embraced or held hands. On everyone’s lips was the question, “Are you okay?” As churches continued a series of services that began Friday night, residents gathered, many lit candles or set up memorial trees soon surrounded by flowers and other gifts left as a vigil for the many children and adults the town lost last week.