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On the Sandy Hook Tragedy and the Lanza Family

There’s not much left to say about what happened a week ago at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, CT.  I’ve purposely avoided watching the news or reading too much online about the tragedy.  What happened is so inconceivable to me, the murder of innocent children and their teachers, that I’ve tried to keep my focus on my own family.

I know that everyone is struggling to understand how and why something like this could happen.  It’s our natural inclination to want to glean a specific reason for something that defies reason.

Unfortunately, the early reports about the young man possibly having Asperger’s Syndrome ignited and spread like wildfire.  There are people that grasp onto this as the thing that caused the incident.  Many in the autism community are working tirelessly to help make people aware that autism, or specifically, Asperger’s, is not a condition that typically lends itself to planned violence.

The truth is we may never know what combination of mental and emotional issues drove him to commit this atrocity.  There have been some articles that have quoted acquaintances of the mother, Nancy Lanza, as saying that she was a devoted mother who had her hands full.  It makes me wonder if things were what they seemed.

There’s a poem, by Stevie Smith, that comes to mind, called Not Waving but Drowning.

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

And I have to wonder if, despite appearances, perhaps Nancy Lanza and her son weren’t waving, but drowning.

While there is nothing that could ever justify what took place, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to understand how and why someone could be driven to this kind of act, without jumping to conclusions about autism.
How do we go forward, and how do we learn to identify those who may be drowning, so we can throw them a life preserver?  Because if we continue to swim past those that are drowning, they will eventually go under.
If we truly want to honor the victims of Sandy Hill Elementary, we must be more assertive and aware as friends and neighbors; we must ask more questions, offer more help, and be more engaged with those around us.
If you’d like to donate to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary, please click here for a link to My Sandy Hook Family Fund.

About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

6 responses »

  1. Could not have said it better.

  2. Flan, this is beautiful and so heartbreaking. You make such an important point. We’re missing the point, too. That it’s not about guns or autism or any of those things. It’s about being aware. I loved this. I hated how much it hurt to read, but it truly was hauntingly beautiful.

  3. This is excellent. Very well written.

  4. thanks so much for sharing, I too was heartbroken by the news about Asperger’s. I wrote a post about what a hidden blessing Asperger’s has been to my family. You can read it here

  5. excellent. many days I have felt like we are drowning–our entire family. those with autism and those affected by it. It is a constant presence. We have plenty of good days, but sometimes it would be such a relief to experience true help and understanding.

  6. I love this poem. Thank you for sharing it. I feel like the dead man these days.


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