Author Paul Auster once said, “Everything can change at any moment, suddenly, and forever.” It was shortly after 9:30 A.M., 10 days before Christmas, and only a few hours before the weekend in a serene elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. An evil madman makes his way into two classrooms, where young kids eagerly ponder the arrival of Santa Claus. Everything had changed at this moment, “suddenly and forever.”
Just after 11:00 am on Friday, lunch had ended and I was headed to my next hour class. Feeling my phone vibrate, I reached for my pocket and quickly glanced at my phone. The CNN news alert was concise, yet appalling. I had remembered writing an article about the Portland, Oregon mall shooting just three days before, but this tragedy was solely callous and sickening.
20 children and 7 adults faced a fanatic gunman on this dark day in American history: 20 possible leaders, presidents, business owners, athletes, servicemen, and heroes. On this day, innocence was taken by ignorance. Futures were crudely slaughtered.
A season where joyful lights sway from the rooftop and a decorated tree occupies the living room was transformed by wickedness. As Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said, “Evil has visited this community today.”
Coming home from school, I turned on the TV to watch news reports examine and further clarify the incident. I watched video of heartbroken parents hastily heading to the enduring scene, attempting to locate their children. A wrenching demonstration of police vehicles and personnel gathered at Sandy Hook Elementary School to calm the onlookers and attempt to halt the disaster. But there was nothing they could do.
Everything had changed for parents, students, and teachers. Everything had changed at this moment, “suddenly and forever.”