Like, if someone asks you, “What kind of things did you cover?” you then say “For the last two days I wrote exclusively about the funerals of children,” and it’s done. Even if you endeavor to keep the emotion out of your voice, even if you exert physical effort to keep tears and tremors at bay. Instant end to discussion.
I’m sorry that is my answer to that question, to most questions right now. I’m sorry because I know it’s an uncomfortable thing to have to respond to.
It’s an uncomfortable thing to do.
But I didn’t go down there expecting to be comfortable. I didn’t go expecting it to be easy. I didn’t go thinking I’d leave without a lasting effect. I didn’t even go knowing that I could do it.
But I went knowing that I had to.
I allowed myself to be repeatedly assigned to writing about the funerals of children—put myself in a position where I had to absorb all the beautiful, magical, innocent things about these kids, only to list them following the phrase “one of 20 children killed in last Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,”—not because I wanted to. But because I had to.
Because those children deserve their stories to be told, their lives to be honored, in a respectful and sensitive way. They deserve that at least.
James, Charlotte, Jessica, Daniel, Caroline, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison deserve that.
I can’t help their families, not really. I can’t ease their pain or bring back their sons and daughters or give them answers. What I could do was make sure the few I had the chance write about didn’t become just names on a list, but were remembered as a future veterinarian, a breakfast sandwich enthusiast, a rescuer of worms on rainy days, an expert shoe-tier and table setter.
And that’s what I did. And that’s why when you ask me what I wrote about, I’m not going to give you a non-answer or tell you about the municipal meeting I covered or the press conference I went to.
That doesn’t matter. These children do. These 20 lives do.