This is a difficult Monday morning, as a nation reflects on the Sandy Hook / Newtown Connecticut school massacre. Six adults and twenty children (all of them, 6 or 7 years old) were slaughtered as they started school on Friday.
It’s possible to have empathy for distraught parents and families and to imagine their grief, but it is impossible to experience the depth of their despair. Somehow, it seems unfair that we are powerless to shift some of their overwhelming grief onto our own shoulders.
There are many tributes on TV and across the country with photos of individual victims and a vignette about a favorite color, hobby, school work or their families. But here is a simple story in the Los Angeles Times that has no photo, yet it is a profoundly emotional read. (This is triggering—It left me shattered)…
The family of one victim, Madeline Hsu, has not provided a photo of their child. So far, news bureaus have refrained from using school photos. The family does not want her face broadcast in the media. They are grieving privately, with a police cruiser outside their home to discourage reporters or well-wishers from bothering them.
Across the street lives a little boy, Logan Dryer, who is 5. He is one year younger than Madeline and suffers from panic attacks. (He does not yet know about the shooting). Since the start of the school year, he has been afraid of going to school, especially afraid of leaving on the school bus. But with the help of Madeline and another shooting victim, Carolyn Previdi, he has been getting onto the bus on most mornings. Madeline promised Logan’s mom that she and Carolyn would be “Logan’s Guardians” and demonstrate to him that there is nothing to be scared of. Each morning, they take over for Logan’s Mom and hold his hand as they wait for the bus. Then, these two girls — both are dead now — would sit next to Logan and help him to be calm, happy and engaged on the bus ride to school.
According to the Times article, Madeline and Carolyn’s parents didn’t know that their daughters had taken on the role of guardians to a panic prone child. In fact, they had never met the Dryers. The girls did this of their own volition.
Once Logan arrived at school, two caring adults took over from the girls, holding Logan when he needed it and whispering away his fears: Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung and school psycholo-gist, Mary Sherlach. But Fate took another gut wrenching turn for little Logan, because these two adults were the first shooting victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The killer had apparently fingered them as targets from the onset.
Now, Logan’s mom asks herself the really tough question: How can she explain to Logan that all four of his guardian angels were killed without cause and without warning? These were very individuals who brushed away fear and gave a 5 year old the strength to go to school. They assured him that it was safe to do so. And it wasn’t.
Ironically, Logan did not get on the bus last Friday. He had a panic attack. That was just before a shooter entered his school and began killing.
How can anyone read this story and not cry? Is safety and illusion? How will Logan’s family eventually explain this to the frightened boy? How can he believe in anything now?
Other back stories, selected by AWildDuck:
- Source: LA Times: All 4 of Logan’s Guardians are gone
- Victim Photos: Sandy Hook, Newtown CT
- Six year old Newtown survivor played dead as shooter killed her classmates
- Neighbor took 6 young survivors into his home
- 6th grade student brings handgun to school for protection in wake of Sandy Hook
- I am Adam Lanza’s Mother: Grappling with 13 year old son’s mental illness
- AWildDuck: 3 Prong Approach to School Security Avoids Lockdown
- AWildDuck: Few Tributes to Nancy Lanza? Don’t feel guilt!
- AWildDuck: Culture of Violence: Are games & media part of the problem?