Awkward and Tough

It’s been over a year since Newtown. I wanted to write this post before Dec. 14, but I thought better of it. I knew I needed to wait. I didn’t have a reason why (I still don’t), but I needed to wait.

I’ve written about Newtown before and it hasn’t been easy.

Some of my best writing has come from Newtown, which is awful to say, but covering three vigils last December and the story package we had this past weekend was something to remember.

It’s never easy to broach the conversation, but, I feel, it’s good for people to talk to someone, other than a family member or friend, who just wants to hear what you have to say.

At the Chronicle we came up with the idea to do something a bit different with our Newtown coverage. To localize it, we decided to interview parents of elementary school-aged children in our districts. We asked them if they felt their children were safe and how they, as parents, have possibly changed since last December.

Before I even called anyone, I was freaking out. I had a gut feeling no one was going to talk to me. I figured, since they are parents, they just wouldn’t want to. Newtown affected each person a bit differently. Many people are still grieving. And that’s more than okay. What happened in Newtown, though I have yet to go into the town, haunts me each day (that’s another post).

I got my list of parents and I started calling. For many, I left long, awkward messages asking them for a bit of their time to talk about the safety of their children in the shadow of Newtown. For some, I got the mothers right away and we just started talking.

What I thought were going to be five-minute conversations turned into half-hour scrolls of how they handled it that day with their children to how nervous they get out in public. It was simply amazing.

These were the interviews where you didn’t have to ask any questions. Once you told them the topic they took it and ran with it. It was something I will never forget.

Mike had Louisa and I work on it together, effectively splitting up our “Big 5” towns and getting as many parents as we could. The story that came out of those interviews is easily one of my top five best stories of my life

You can read it here:

Keeping Newtown close to their hearts Local parents continue to cope with the tragedy.

I’ve read it probably 10 times and I just remember covering all of the vigils and memorials last year. Whether it was 26 bells at a church in Lebanon or 26 candles at the high school auditorium in Coventry, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the 26 people who were gunned down last year.

This story is about the healing process and how it’s not as easy as turning a new page in life. Safety and security mean more to parents than ever before.

These were mostly children. Babies. They were just babies…

Jonathan

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