Dadmissions: Newtown One Year Later

As we approach the one year anniversary of the Newtown massacre, I wanted to share my thoughts just as they were that weekend, raw and unfiltered. Below are two columns, one written that night after a long and grueling day, the other written at the end of the weekend with the news still fresh in my mind. We continue to remember the victims


Post #1 Dadmissions: I Hugged My Kids

All I could think about was hugging my kids and hugging them tight.

When I heard the news of the devastating school massacre in Connecticut I jumped into action. That’s what news people do. We’re supposed to be used to this. But there’s never a “getting used to this”. While some people turn off the TV when the images and emotions are just too much, we intentionally rush in and immerse ourselves in what’s happening trying to bring people the best news and information. This day was no different as we dispatched reporters and booked flights and went into crisis coverage.

But all I could think about was hugging my kids and hugging them tight.

We heard from a heroic nurse who saw the commotion and ran to help. “Who can I help”, she said before she was told there was no one left to help. I saw the pictures of panicked children holding hands being led from the school, and I saw the pictures of shocked and grieving parents arriving to the news we all hope we never get. I couldn’t stop thinking about the parents who dropped their kids off for school that morning. I couldn’t stop thinking about the parents who got that call. Those parents, oh god.

But all I could think about was hugging my kids and hugging them tight.

I heard the wrenching words from the President all choked up. I heard from a grieving community which will never be the same. I heard about the brave principal who tried to warn the school. I heard about the brave teachers who tried to lock their doors and hide their students. I heard about the shooter and the motives and the questions that remain. Sadness mixed with anger mixed with adrenaline. News people live off adrenaline when there is breaking news. It was the adrenaline that carried me through all our newscasts during the day. It was the adrenaline that kept me going.

But all I could think about was hugging my kids and hugging them tight.

At the end of the day I got in the car for the ride home. For even a brief second, I tried to forget what I had spent the entire day bringing to viewers. The first time you really get to stop and think about something can be the loneliest and the saddest moment. It was. I feel so horrible for those kids and those parents. I feel so horrible for that community. At the same time, I feel so guilty going home to my own kids. It was a long ride home. I parked in the driveway and walked to the door. I stepped inside as the kids yelled, “Daddy!” It was the sweetest, most guilt-filled moment ever.

I hugged my kids. I hugged them tight

newtown 1


Post#2 Dadmissions: Telling The Kids

We’ve been struggling with this all weekend… Do we talk with our kids about what happened in Connecticut? The 4 year old is too young. The 7 year old isn’t. She often hears about things on the playground or from friends before we ever tell her and that was the deciding factor that we as parents needed to speak with her first. So we told both kids we were taking them on special missions today.. separately. Alicia is 7 years old, the same age as many of those young children lost, and she is so bright and intuitive and wanted to know what we were doing. We left her younger sister at grandmas and drove off with Alicia as the rain was falling.

My wife Gloria got the courage to start the conversation. Friday, she told Alicia, something terrible had happened to children at a school just like Alicia’s. We were stopped at a traffic light with the rain falling as we both started to cry and tell the story of the children of Newtown. We tried as best we could to reassure her about her own safety and we tried to explain WHY it was so important for her to know. I asked her if she wanted to know the names of the 20 children and she did. So I read her the names one by one. And she listened intently. Afterwards, we answered more questions.

We told Alicia we wanted to do something special with her. So we went to a toy store. Alicia carefully picked out 20 toys… one in honor of each Newtown victim who won’t see the holidays this year. We paid at the cash register and Alicia carefully placed each toy in a holiday donation box so that 20 other children might get to enjoy this holiday season. She filled up an entire donation box in honor of the kids of Newtown. At home, she told my wife it felt so good to give like she was “Santa” she said. We pinky promised not to talk about her special mission with her sister or her friends unless they too were talking about Newtown in school or in her class. We know it is such a personal decision for parents.

Gloria and I picked up 4 year old Andreya for her own special mission and went to a bakery to pick up some special treats. It was a nice change of pace and a reminder of how young these kids still are. It has been a wrenching weekend for so many families. I’m hoping on one rainy Sunday we taught our older daughter about 20 children who will never be forgotten.

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About dadmissions

author of Dadmissions. surrounded by a wife and two girls... and a dog named Cupcake
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