Friday, March 22, 2013

Newtown: 99 Days

Newtown, CT
Fairfield Hills Trail

Photo Taken: 
8 am 
22 March

99 Days.
Tough days behind us and more tough days ahead.
I was feeling ok today, upbeat and thinking of the color red.
I anxiously approached Fairfield Hills.
Then I cried.
A quiet walk.  Alone.  Thoughts of James.
I wanted my kids there.
I wanted to be with the larger group.
But this was my time.
A Coach's time with his player.
Not to talk, but to listen.
It was a cold morning but I did not feel it.
I enjoyed the walk.
I treasured the silence.
I missed that over these 99 days.
James brought that back to me.

Around the bend was a glimmer of red.
The red became a Sea of Crimson.
Kids laughter filled the air.
Red balloons took flight.

This is not a regular birthday. 
We commemorate with tears.

As I remember from Day 1 in "No Words from Newtown"
"I coached a boy who's eyes sparkled when he smiled. 
He did not need words to show his joy."

Thank you James for the Sea of Red.
You showed us Joy today in the midst of sorrow.
99 Days seems like yesterday.
From a coach to his player.....Happy Birthday

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Newtown: Struggling

I am struggling.  I am afraid to type that word.
Struggle.  Seems so harsh.  So cold.  But I feel that.
If you have followed any part of the Newtown shootings.....
I think you understand.
The struggle to balance thoughts of "what if" with reality of "what is"

If you are a parent, you understand.
Struggle to balance.
Struggle to please
Struggle to do.
Struggle to just be.

If you are a Dad, you understand.
Struggle to serve.
Struggle to protect.
Struggle to provide.

I am struggling because Newtown changed me.
It became my home.  Long ago but cemented now.

I struggle because I want to do more.
I struggle when I watch Mark on Capital Hill in Hartford.
I struggle to imagine how each passing day is for him, Cindy and Anna.
I think often of James and Olivia.
Catherine is on my heart too.  Especially with Jen Hubbard being JP's teacher.

I struggle to balance love with sadness.
I love being with my kids.  And do it often.
I struggle to want more time with them.
Maybe that is every Dad's struggle?  Or every parent's worry that today may be there last?

Life moves forward.
More fun. More trials.
But I struggle to forget.
Maybe it is a part of me.  Part of us.
But it can't define me.  Or us.

Does the struggle ever end?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Newtown: A Mission for our Children

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world.  Be Strong, Newtown.

What am I called to do?

My Mission:
Be a leader to create a stronger town filled with stronger families by creating incredible life experiences for our kids.

Goal 1:  Returning Joy to my (& Newtown's) children

Fairfield University (my alma mater) found a way.
Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo found a way.

Newtown Youth Day on December 17 started it.
Kids played.  With no fear.  With no media.  With Joy.

We must continue this mission.
I can't do it alone.
I have and will find others to lead with me.
But it will continue.
It must continue.

Time will pass.  Sports seasons will change.
But I will be strong.  Together, we will be stronger.

Months will pass.  Milestones will be reached.
But we will play.  And laugh.
Maybe cry.  Always remembering.

My collective strength.
My family's resilience.
My town.
Together we are an example for the rest of the world.

That's my mission.
I am ready.
I am willing.
I am able.

I am Strong.  Newtown Strong.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Newtown: How our Town Heals

"Will what happened to the Sandy Hook kids happen to me?" 
How do I answer this question from my 6 year old.

Our town is sad.  We have questions.  My family too.

We all grieve differently.  I've learned that lesson.  I respect that now.

I see the impact to my kids.  Some get quiet.  Some get loud.

We all heal differently.  In different ways.  In different times.  In different phases.

Our town continued to heal this past week.
Soccer Night in Newtown helped.
Basketball teams playing all over town helped more. 
A small step to help kids heal.
A small step to help parents cope.
A small step to help a town heal.

More to come this weekend.

I still don't have an answer yet to:
"Will what happened to the Sandy Hook kids happen to me?" 

Maybe I never will.
Maybe I don't want to answer it.  Maybe I want to ignore it, pretend it never existed.

I don't have a response.
I hug a little longer.  A little tighter.
My eyes waters when my kids leave for the bus.
I hold their head steady to look at me when I say "I love you".

I am learning to heal.
With my town.
With my family. 
In our time.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Newtown: A Town with Hope

“A modest glow of hope flickered to life within me, like a candle in the night. I had a plan and it was a good one. I only needed to survive to put it into effect” - Life of Pi

We as a town start to hope.  It is small hope, but it glimmers.
The media moves on.  But we are here.
We move forward.  Together.
We have hope.

Hope that our schools are safe for our kids.
Hope that our families are doing well.
Hope for a renewed joy for our Sandy Hook school community.
Hope for a day by day existence for the parents.

It is small.  It's a start.  But it is there.

Is it ok to joke now?
Can I truly smile?
Why do I still feel sad?
Can I still coach these kids with joy?
Why do I always think of ... What if?
Why do I continue to think of James' smile?
Where is my hope?

My hope is weak.  Not strong.  Needs work.

But I have faith.
Faith that we move forward. Together.  One step forward.
Maybe two steps backward.
But we hope together.  Hopefully stronger.
As one.

Hope is there.  To be nurtured in our tight community.  Forever.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Newtown: The New Normal

My wife said to me, "...You do realize the impacts of the Newtown shootings in our town will be felt for a long time....."  That struck me.

This event has put me "in a fog".  I have been changed by this event.  But, will I change?

My friends in town might be feeling the exact same way.
Along with grief, we have seen extraordinary amount of blessings.
Donors have sent to our town:  free coffee, food, toys, free events and free museums. 

In simple or big ways, this country has helped out the kids their families and our town.  Friends have randomly shown up on our door step.  Just to be with us.

This has helped us slowly gain a sense of community.  A sense of normalcy.

The media and memorial visitors are slowing fading away.

Our town hopes to return to what we once were.  But we can't.

We have a new normal.  We are changed.

But will we change?

Will I be a better father and husband?
Will I be a better friend?
Will I be a better coach?
Will I further help and serve the kids (our future) in our town?
Will our town work to protect our kids?
Will our town appropriately allocate all the $$$ blessings it has received?
Will our town work to improve our kids quality of life?
Will our town work for gun control?
Or will we work to gain media exposure for our own interests?

What is our new normal?  Time will tell.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Newtown: A Town Learns to Mourn

When you lose your Dad suddenly at age 17, you learn about death.
When your niece dies when she is 9 months old, you learn about pain.
When you lose 20 children in one day in your town, you learn to mourn.

We mourn each day for these kids and families.
We mourn the purity of our town.
I mourn the innocence of my four children.
I mourn for James as I read from his obituary:
"If his Dad was outside, James wanted to be right there with him."

My town is sad.  So am I.
I've learned we each mourn differently.
In mourning, I have learned I want to give of myself.
Trying in one small way to give life back to our town, life back to our kids.
As adults we know about death.  Especially this week.
But for our kids we wanted this week to be a step forward.
So we played.
We found a haven away from the media to play.
To play each day with our kids.
We cried.  We hugged.  We encouraged.
But through it all - our kids played.  And Smiled.  And Laughed.

One small step.

I am learning each day to mourn.   My town is learning too.

And yes, are right here with us.