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