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Newtown After Obama's Visit: 'My Heart is Hurting More'

At vigils and at local establishments, residents watch alongside visitors from near and far.


"Newtown, you are not alone," President Barack Obama told the town at a Sunday night vigil at Newtown High School.

Obama spoke alongside representatives from a wide range of Newtown's religious institutions, who offered their prayers.

Vicar Rob Mossis of Christ the King Lutheran Church asked God to "heal our brokenness, to answer our questions, to replace our doubts with certainty, our anger with peace and our hurt with and healing."

Flowers and Candles in Sandy Hook

As President Obama arrived in Newtown Sunday night, the streets of Sandy Hook were packed with both media and visitors from near and far.

Passerbys dropped flowers, hand-written messages and stuffed animals among dozens of burning candles at the intersection of Church Hill Road and Washington Avenue, in front of and around a giant tree decorated for Christmas.

"I guess I'm just here to lend my support and comfort anyway I can," Camille Wallace, a Queens, NY, resident who came to Connecticut for the day. "You never really know what to do in this situation. I'm trying to talk to whoever I can, pass along a hug."

"It Hasn't Sunk In Completely Yet"

With the President offering condolences to friends and neighbors less than a mile away, patrons at The Inn at Newtown joined millions of others watching a memorial service for the victims of Friday's shooting.

One couple sat arm-in-arm throughout the service. About two dozen people watched Sunday night's memorial service on a pair of televisions.

The room was silent for much of the evening, reactions limited to one-word statements. A woman murmured "Oh my God" as the president read the first names of each child victim.

"It hasn't sunk in completely yet," said a man named Dean. (We respect the decision of several patrons to decline to give their last names.) "It comes in bits and spurts when you realize the depths of what happened."

Dean said his mother is a substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and was scheduled to teach second grade there the day of the shooting. She was moved to a different school at the last minute.

"All of her friends were wiped out," Dean said. "She's going through a period of grieving. There's a certain level of survivor's guilt."

After trying to attend the memorial service at the high school, Dean came to the bar to watch Sunday night. Although not a supporter of the president politically, Dean said he applauded at the end of the president's speech because the decision to visit Newtown was "the right thing to do."

"There was a sense of community in there,” he said. “People were listening, Americans were listening, they were listening to everything.”

"The Emptiness is Huge"

Another patron at the Inn, Jack, sat quietly at the bar. His brother lives in Sandy Hook. Jack spent the day trying to check on his brother -- "He knows somebody who lost somebody," he said -- but was held up by the traffic in the area.

"The sadness is still there," he said as the service ended. "After 9/11, I felt in shock, I felt saddened, and then I felt angry. Here, the sadness has just gotten deeper. These are young children ... I can't fathom children being killed... The sadness... My heart is hurting more."

Jack is a father -- his two children are 6 and 7.

"When I came home Friday, my own children found some styrofoam from Christmas packing and broke it all up as snow. I don't know if you know what it's like to clean up styrofoam. But we just let them go. Because of what happened. And they made the biggest mess."

And here his voice began to falter. 

"But we can enjoy that. What can you say to somebody who's missing somebody? The emptiness is huge. Words can't express it. The community around here has come together. But the emptiness is going to be here for a while."

Nina December 17, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Now we have so many angels in the sky :((((
nina December 17, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Sometimes I catch a glimpse, In softened waves of blue My child, my heart …when I see a smile I can’t help but think of you Sometimes these waves fill oceans. And feelings string on every shore A collections of each memory And every way I wish for more Sometimes I watch for answers Because each day I call to you I ask for faith and courage And strength …to help me through Sometimes I ask for bravery Like dolphins in the deep Because time moves oh so slowly And some times the road is steep Sometimes I want to scream This was not what I had planned Why you ever suffered A mom can’t understand Sometimes I hear your laughter And remember you at play But My Child I always miss you Not sometimes, but everyday
Judy Davidson December 17, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I'm very disturbed by the not so subtle political digs of this article. It is trivial to note that not everyone there supports the President politically someone clapped anyway. Useless to state what would obviously be the case in a large audience--unless this mirrored the personal sentiments of the author. Even the title of this article belies a certain rancor, implying as it does that the President's visit surely must have made people feel worse and not better. I looked and looked to find the source of the quote I in the title, to no avail. I wanted to place the title in context, but the fact that none was provided in the body of the article lent a highly inappropriate feel to this article. Very disappointed that the author found it necessary to do this at such a time.
G. December 17, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I have to go to a "wake" this week for one of the women killed in this horrible act - just thought that people might like to check this link out. http://www.poeticexpressions.co.uk/POEMS/A%20life%20that%20matters.htm
Catherine Molly December 17, 2012 at 07:58 PM
The source of the quote is the man, Jack, sitting at the bar...it is a direct quote from him.
GEG December 17, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Judy, I agree. The title makes it sound like people are hurting more because the President came and that is surely not the case.
Ruth December 17, 2012 at 08:07 PM
And may I add to what "Jack" said, that I was at the vigil and took exception to the President's political undertones about the gun issues and did NOT clap at the commencement of his speech. He started out eloquently, ended beautifully, but the inbetween substance was off track and inappropriate for this venue. It left me with a not good feeling.
Ruth December 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I only hope that the victims' families and first responders received what they needed to help them. Have to say, the overflow crowd in the gym at the high school did not react emotionally, and there was not a sense of community or belonging. People were upset that they had children in the Sandy Hook school and were not able to see the President, etc. In the area where we were seated a father with older teenage boys kept checking with them to see what the football scores were, and another person's phone kept signaling frequently with text messages. In line waiting to enter the vigil, a mother of one of the children from the school pushed her daughter to the fore front to be on camera chatting with a reporter from MSNBC, I believe, who asked the girl how she felt about having dead friends. What parent would not try to shield her child from this after experiencing something so horrific???? Then the mother proceeded to go on camera for at least 15 minutes going on and on about this. Just saying......there is always someone who is insensitive and wanting to be the center of attention no matter what the circumstances. I am sure this person knows who she is. Shame on you!
GEG December 17, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I was there (outside) and I hope some provisions were made so that the families of those impacted the most got in. I saw some very sad people out there.
Ruth December 17, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The President met with the victims' families and first responders, but not with any of the families of the children who were there and survived. There were 3 incidents that we witnessed with upset families who were not able to get into the auditorium, as they argued with the security people. It is unfortunate that there was not a way for ALL the children involved to be with the President as well. Very sad for them, and I can understand the emotions boiling over for their families.
John M. Joy December 17, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I'm sure you'll discover that anyone to have an audience with POTUS must be vetted, and there simply wasn't time to run background checks on anyone but the victims' families and first responders.
Marty Busdodger December 18, 2012 at 03:17 AM
But Ruth, what is "political" about the need to avoid tragedies like this in the future? When the bridge collapsed in Cos Cob, we examined the causes and tried (at least) to address our shortcomings. In NYC, cranes have collapsed, elevators have malfunctioned and fires have broken out at nightclubs (also in Warwick RI). These are all preventable tragedies. We just need to acknowlege that assault weaponss in the hands of unstable people can cause tremendous damage in the time it takes to read this note. That is not a "right" that the Second Amendment was designed to protect. If good people believe that steps we might take to protect lives is "politics," then we -- as a nation -- have a huge problem.
Connie Burak December 18, 2012 at 03:34 AM
To Judy and GEG-- I agree with Judy's point but it is not certain this was the intent . I think it is more likely it is a poor headline choice, selected for its emotionalism rather than as an accurate representation of the thrust of the article.
Ruth December 18, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Marty, perhaps my use of "political" was not correct. The forum for the President to bring this up, was just not appropriate, or at least this is how my family and I who were in attendance felt. I have spoken to others since, and many people felt the same way. The vigil should have been all about the children, families and first responders period. It just did not seem right to bring other mass killings, our failures and gun control issues into this service.
Stella December 18, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Sorry Ruth I completely disagree with you..the families of the victims and first responders come first as to visitation with the President! He came to our town to comfort and he delivered to the entire nation as well! And as for you demeaning any members of our community is just as insulting! NOW is the time to talk and ACT about guns laws as well as mental health issues..we must! All I have spoken to have agreed including our Govenor. It was a very appropreiate time obviously you didn't notice the standing ovation after his speech! This article and title do have a rather GOP spin to it and this is not the time about political parties and agendas! Lets focus on the doing what is just and right for these babies who I will NOT allow to die in vain! And no reporter has asked a child any form of question like that! Yes there's mass media here but they have all been respectful and the point is to focus on those we lost learn their names never forget and DO SOMETHING! You said almost envious of those being talked by reporters..get some help
hawthorne December 18, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Thank you Stella! Ruth sounds a tad bitter. Although she complains about the lack of emotion and community feeling she seems blind to the fact that she certainly exhibits neither emotion appropriate to the situation nor sensitivity toward the community. Have to be pretty petty to focus on only what's wrong with the response of the President, the community, the media, etc. Hate to say it but she sure sounds typical GOP. Fortunately her type is going the way of the dino.
jim laguardia December 18, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot... Ruth how can you say someone is inappropriate and political when everything you have written her is political? WE GET IT, you love your guns and dislike Obama.
Ruth December 18, 2012 at 03:48 PM
You two could not be further off from what I am feeling. First of all, I did say that the victims' families and first responders SHOULD have been with the President. My heart ached for the children who had been in the school, along with their families, who were NOT able to be with the President as their emotions were raw. I don't care what political party the President is....has no affect. My family and I and friends across the country felt that he went to areas that were not appropriate for the families. I have cried many tears and feel so much compassion for these people. I am a mother and grandmother and parent who has lost a child, so believe me, I know the anguish and suffering these people are feeling and feel terrible helpless in knowing there is nothing to ease that pain. It is sheer, utter helplessness. As far as being "envious" of the mother speaking with the reporter, you are WAY off base. My instinct was to grab and hug that child the mother pushed forward to protect her. I can still see her soleful eyes pearing out from her face. And, the reporter DID ask that question much to the horror of my family and me. Thankfully most of the media has been extremely respectful. You read what you wanted into my comments. My child's loss, although many years ago, is still painful.....I understand the agony.
Ruth December 18, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Jim, I am SO anti-gun!! You are so wrong there. If I had my way, there would not be any. I totally am on board with gun control and the dire need and always have been. I just think a vigil/memorial service was not the proper venue for this.
Stella December 18, 2012 at 07:32 PM
And so do we! How dare you assume you know are lives! You are a truly judgemental person and our community can really do without your presence at the moment no one cares how you feel about the president comments.. Point is we care and the families sure do so your argument via you your family and so called friends actions the country are NULL! Try to become a more compassionate person in general..it will do you good!
Ruth December 18, 2012 at 07:46 PM
This will be my last comment, although I dare say I do not think I should even bother to respond to your ugliness...how dare YOU!!!!!!! I merely stated an opinion as to how we felt period. You will not find a more loving, compassionate, empathetic person than me. It would do you good to be charitable. I stated and will state again that I have also lost a child and understand their agony. Do you truly call yourself a Christian with the venom and hatred you have just spewed out???? I pray for you as well as the victims and others in Sandy Hook.
Siwanoy December 18, 2012 at 10:18 PM
"You will not find a more loving, compassionate, empathetic person than me." get over yourself ruth, if that were the case the tone of ALL of your posts on Patch would be much different.
Ruth December 18, 2012 at 10:29 PM
I am an old lady who has lived her life surrounded by loving, caring people, and I in turn have returned this love and caring. If expressing an opinion, or saying that I am loving and compassionate means I must "get over myself", than I truly feel sorry for you. There is nothing for me to get over. I have offered my love and compassion. So sad for you to be so cold and cruel. God bless you one and all.
Judy Johnson December 18, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Nina: Beautiful!!!
Siwanoy December 18, 2012 at 11:47 PM
You said that we wouldn't find someone who was MORE loving and compassionate than YOU. That is egotistical, surely you can see that. You are A God loving lady, show some grace.
Ruth December 19, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Sorry...but you need to show some grace and respect as well. Nitpicking?? Really??

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