Heartbreaking 13

 Newtown shooting memorial

The question everyone keeps asking continues to go unanswered tonight as we pass the day two mark of the investigation into the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. We did get some answers from police today. We got names, and details about the weapons used, and that's good. Police need those details as part of their investigation and we need them to try to help us make some sense of it all. I keep going back to the look on my 8-year-old daughter's face when I had to explain what had happened yesterday morning in a town we have close ties to. Her eyes looked at me, simultaneously filled with searching, hurt and disbelief, as she muttered the first and only word she could: "Why?"

The way her face changed, the way she changed in that moment of speaking that elusive, solitary word, will haunt me forever.

Since the blur of information and misinformation that was yesterday, police have been able to provide a clearer picture of what went down at Sandy Hook School sometime after 9:30 Friday morning. We know that an armed man, who is widely being identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, forced his way into the building and murdered a 47-year-old principal and a 56-year-old school psychologist.

We know that they did not succeed but gave their life trying, and will forever be hailed as heroes, along with the two first grade teachers and two classroom aids that put themselves between their kids and danger before bullets from an assault rifle covered them all. We know that sometime after that, the shooter took his life using one of the three guns he was carrying on his bulletproofed body.

I drove through Newtown, Connecticut last night, very late when I knew the roads would be quiet and news crews packed up for the night. I needed to reconnect with the community where I once worked and knew the members of the school community intimately. I drove past St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church where members of the town gathered earlier in the night to pray, and passed several houses completely dark and wondered, "Did one of those children live there? Is that why all the lights are out? Why?"

None of us are going to stop asking "why" Adam Lanza did this until we get an answer. Police say they have gathered "good evidence" in the home he shared with his murdered mother Nancy Lanza as to a possible motive, which might explain some things.

But it still won't answer the "why."

Just like I could not answer my daughter. We sat together for a little while watching the TV, me trying to explain as best I could to a little girl what was developing and what she would likely hear more about at school on Monday and the weeks to come.

But after a short while, something pretty astounding happened. She lost interest in the chatter on the TV and started playing games on my phone. Pretty soon she was even smiling. Wait a minute, how is this possible? She had not even gotten her answer, and yet she had already moved on.


That is the question we all should be asking instead of the "why." Because it doesn't exist.

My daughter asked the question, but she already held the answer. And we do, too. We may never forget or completely heal, but yes, we will all somehow get through this, each in our own way. It took a child to teach me this.


Image via Mario Tama/Getty

crime, death, guns


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

wamom223 wamom223

My first thought when I woke up this morning was how lucky I was to go check on my son sleeping safely in his bed and that there are parents out there that didn't get to do that today.  I think we have to look at mental health differently after this.  There is a teen being raised in my family with mental problems and he has gotten violent before and I know for a fact the people raising him aren't qualified and are probably making him worse.  They refuse to discipline him and he plays video games 24/7.  I have friends that run a home for people with high functioning mental disabilities and their hands are tied in so many ways that it is crazy. Most of their residents are fine but they have on that is out of control and there is nothing they can do. There isn't going to be an answer why to this because this boy was mentally sick and we can't make sense of this.  We have to be able to take care of our mentally ill people better than this because right now it seems like we are sitting by while they either kill themselves or others.  

nonmember avatar Wide Eyed

I agree completely wamom. Most families aren't equipped to handle mental illness. The catch-22 being that once the person is of age, you can't force them to get help, unless you can prove they are a danger to themselves or others. So families are forced to sit and wait and hope that when the day comes, that someone doesn't get killed. We have to do better then that.

CByxbe CByxbe

Fist and foremost is we cannot blame other people with this disability. Most people with disabilities are victims of violent crimes not the other way around. Why not also ask what triggered this? The person killed his mom first and went to her school so it seems like there was a trigger with her.

eupeptic eupeptic

Some information from Erik Medhus (a guy who died a few years ago) about why this occurred was channeled today and posted on the blog Channeling Erik.

And children aren't as knowledgeable and experienced (thus having fewer and/or less stringent expectations about how the world ought to be), and often aren't as empathetic as adults are (as their brain is still developing) so it can be much easier for them to not put much thought into the lives of others as we do, especially when it doesn't affect them directly (and thus not spend much time worrying about things such as this).

nonmember avatar Zuri

Why would someone do this? Why would someone kill so many little kids who had their whole lives ahead of them? Where did our illusion of safety go? I see the news and I'm so scared and saddened. My mom was crying earlier this morning. I knew she probably had to fight the urge to go pick me and my brother up from school just to make sure we were safe. Now I know why she seemed so relieved when I came home. I don't want to go to school on Monday. I know we will all be scared, so very scared. I won't be surprised if I see a whole bunch of guards with machine guns outside my school. I'm shocked and, of course, heartbroken because of all those little kids. First graders. First grade was the best year of my life. They probably were having as much fun in life as I was, but they never got to live for the rest of their years. They'll never be my age. They'll never be adults. They'll never serve their purpose in the world. The fact that this happened so close to Christmas makes it even more sickening. I'm imagining Santa taking 20 little packages out of his sack of presents and stopping to mourn the loss of the children those gifts were supposed to go to. If there really is a Santa, he won't bring any joy to the surviving children in Newtown. *sniffle*

Katie Hesney Johnson

I'm afraid we'll never know the true reasons for this tragedy. My heart is breaking for these children and these heroes who tried to protect them. This tragedy highlights the very worst, but also the very best of human nature. These faculty and teachers tried to hurl themselves in front of this gunman to protect these children, this is the definition of being a hero. I can only hope when my DD goes to school she has a dedicated teacher like these teachers. 

jalaz77 jalaz77

He didn't have a reason. Mental health NEVER has a reason. And to blame his mom? No, majority of behavioral health is non-compliant with meds and pretty sure he was off meds, still no excuse! He was a 20 year old man who made a decision and was nuts. Should of NEVER happened.

xiolxuo xiolxuo

I worked at my states psychiatric hospital. There is so much ignorance, and still such a stigma, with mental illness, clearly provided by some of the commentors... there are ALWAYS red flags. Always. People just think things are fine until something tragic happens because they don't know. People with mental problems need help and they aren't cognizant enough to do it on their own. Especially with meds. Just because they are high functioning doesn't mean that they're responsible enough to get the help they need. Most times they don't think they need help. Please educate yourselves.

Do Jenny

Ms. Dermody,
While it seems logical that letting go of the question "Why" when no answer is immediately available, you are not a child. A child can let go of their ignorance about mature subjects, you, however, owe it to your child to understand the root of the problem in order to safeguard, not only your child, but future generations.
No man is an island. We are all interconnected. To ignore problem members in society and not understand the "Why", is equivalent to ignore the warning signs of cancer in a body to treat, and prevent future reoccurance.

jessi... jessicasmom1

I am afraid we will never know why

1-10 of 13 comments 12 Last