“CT Elementary School Shooting: Children Possibly Victims” flashed the graphic on TV as I started to get ready to leave to see my family in Connecticut on Friday, December 14th.
I was on vacation in New York City, about to take the train to Madison, Connecticut, about 45 minutes from Newtown.
I couldn’t pull myself away from the news. I kept watching — as I’m sure you did — craving answers. How many are dead? Who would do this? How could this happen? Why? And as each question got answered, the story got worse. And worse.
Then my dad called, “That’s where James goes!” Who? “James, Susie’s kid! Sarah’s nephew!” What seemed a distant tragedy instantly became personal. The last time I saw Susie, my aunt’s sister, she was pregnant with James. Now he was 7, and witnessed one of the deadliest, and heart-wrenching, school shootings in history.
“Is he ok?” “Yeah he’s fine, Susie picked him up right away. They live walking distance from the school.” I had no idea they lived that close. James also had a cousin — Will, also 7 — who was in the school and also survived. Still, far too close a call.
After welling up as an emotional president addressed the nation, I headed for the train. The mood in the normally bustling Grand Central Station was somber, as was the train ride as it ventured into Connecticut. Some people cried on the phone; others learned of the tragic news for the first time. Every train car was a “quiet car.”
I was grateful to be able to spend the weekend with my family — the first time I’d seen them since moving to Houston. We talked and hugged tightly. Eventually we pulled ourselves away from the replays of the president’s contagiously tearful speech and had dinner — all of us together for the first time in awhile. We couldn’t help but think of the families who no longer have that privilege.
When I was back in New York I listened through Ed Sheeran’s album and came across a song that captured the emotions of the tragedy almost too well. It’s called Autumn Leaves.
“I miss you and I wish you’d stay
Do you ever wonder if the stars shine out for you?
Float down Like autumn leaves And Hush now
Close your eyes before the sleep And you’re miles away
And yesterday you were here with me”
Here’s the montage we put together to capture the raw emotion of December 14th and pay tribute to the brave teachers and victims.
We’ll play it on the air Friday to mark one week since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“And yesterday you were here with me.”