A Letter from Newtown to Paris
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Politics and Activism

A Letter from Newtown to Paris

Look for the helpers.

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A Letter from Newtown to Paris

Dear Paris,

I know you're hurting right now. I know that life seems to have been turned upside down, that everything around you is different. I know that you feel numb and afraid and shell-shocked. I know that life right now feels like a big, open wound and you have no idea of how to heal it.

When my hometown of Newtown, Connecticut was devastated by the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, it felt like nothing would ever feel or be the same again. We didn't know what to make of this horrible situation, or quite how to pick ourselves up and move forward. I remember feeling numb and cold in the days after, watching the news for hours in a state of disbelief. I couldn't comprehend that something this horrible had happened in the place I called home- and it felt like everything we knew had been taken and shaken around and given back to us in shards.

We were left to drown in a sea of grief with the world's eyes watching.

The world also, however, softened its gaze and put its arms around us, assuring us we were not alone in the dark and cold.

This, Paris, is what will help you through.

We, as a community, were overwhelmed with a plethora of support across the globe: from letters and pictures expressing condolences, to donations to victims' families, to toys and gifts for kids.

Our town center became a meeting point for mourners, both local and visiting, and served as a living memorial, with people adding things every day.

Grief counselors specializing in traumatic events traveled hours to offer their services, comfort dogs came in to help in the schools, and at every turn, there was a shoulder offered to lean on.

Saying that "the world is here for you, Paris" can seem like a grand, empty statement; things like lighting up national monuments in the colors of the French flag or lighting candles outside of embassies can come off as ineffective. And before I felt firsthand what mass tragedy was like, this was the perception I had. I used to see footage of tragedies on the news and the ensuing global response and think, what purpose does this have? What's the point?

But now I know that seeing the monuments and the candles and hearing of the vigils and prayers helps in an enormous way, because you know that someone, somewhere, feels your pain and is showing support and love in the best way they can.

It's not about grand gestures or huge donations. It's the simple fact of knowing that you and your community, after having been shaken apart by something unthinkable, are not facing the coming unknown alone.

In the days following the shooting, we came up with the phrase, "We choose love" which came to be our anthem that would carry us through the next months. The world stood behind us, pledging to choose love over fear, hate, and violence. Choosing love is an important part of healing- without making that deliberate choice to love instead of hate or fear, we would never have been able to form the incredible community we have now, nor would we have been so open to all the support that came to us.

Paris, I want you to know that we feel your pain. We feel the pain of a community's lost lives. We feel the pain of having a new fear settle in your chest every time you open your door and wondering if it'll ever go away. We feel the pain of having your lives turned upside down in an instant and the uncertainty of what is to come.

But most of all, I want you to know that you will come through this tragedy, and that the world is with you.

Nous vous aimons, Paris. Reste fort.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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