It’s six months since Sandy Hook.
Here in Monroe, CT, where the survivors now go to school (and will be going until a new school is built for them), today is a somber day where we all are reliving that awful Friday in our heads, thinking of all of our many personal connections to those who lost so much that day, and reflecting on how much (and how little) the world has changed.
In other parts of the country, Sandy Hook and its awful terror seems to have long since been forgotten. Or worse, thought of negatively, as perhaps the “Connecticut Effect”, where a real world tragedy brought to light some of the terrible and real cracks in our society’s foundation. For those who do not want our society to change, Sandy Hook is perhaps a term used negatively.
But not here. Here it’s a phrase woven with love and sadness and protective fierceness. I sat in on a discussion last week of how our own schools will be doing construction over the summer to make them safer. All of the exterior doors will be replaced. All of the classroom doors will now have two way locks, so they can be locked in the inside as well as the outside. When I was a teacher, twenty years ago, this never occurred to us (and I taught in the inner city!). They are reconstructing the entry ways of each school to have “sallyports” or vestibules rather than open access to the building. In one school, this means moving the school office to a different location, so the staff can have “visual command” of the entry way. Glass will enclose these sallyports way from the main hallways. The glass will not shatter with bullets, we were told. The glass will stay in place, even when it breaks.
All of this will “slow down” an intruder, our superintendent said, not stop them. Which is why we have had, and will continue to have, police officers stationed at each school as well.
What a horrible new reality we are living in here. The Connecticut Effect is definitely present here next door to Newtown. It is inescapable. It is our every day these days.
Despite all of the awful, there is also wonder and awe at how kindness and love have become more recognized and more present in our world. Our race two weekends ago brought out the best of our giving and helping community. Our town is offering the school where Sandy Hook kids attend rent free to Newtown. Everywhere you turn there are little green signs in storefront windows proclaiming “Love Wins” or “Choose Love” or “Sandy Hook Loves Monroe”. Many businesses here sell little bracelets, ribbons or shirts to help raise money for the victims and their families.
So here we are, six months out. Tonight we will leave our porch light on, a beacon of light in the darkness that has been left here for so many. And perhaps, maybe a promise that the world will not forget what happened just nine miles up the road. Maybe, just maybe we can still come together and make the world a better place.
Because in the end, I really am hoping that love does win. It just has to.