Newtown, CT — Not Just the site of a School Shooting, But My Former Home

by Jennifer Donovan

My son getting on the bus to Sandy Hook School - 1st grade

Our School, Our Home

This time two years ago, my son would have been at Sandy Hook School. I am so thankful that we’ve relocated back to Houston, Texas, and yet my heart breaks for my community, and I want to be there for them.

We lived there for over six years. My daughter attended Sandy Hook School in 1st through 4th grade. My son went to Kindergarten and first grade there. It is home. Some of my dearest friends are there. So while we all grieve — as a nation, as parents, as teachers and human beings who wonder how something like this could happen — I grieve as a Newtowner.

I first heard the news about the gunman in Newtown, Connecticut from one of my best friends. She sent me an email telling me to pray, because they had received a call that all schools were in lockdown because of a potential gunman. She quickly found out that the schools her children attended were safe, but my former school — the school attended by my son’s buddies — was the one in danger.

I am still waiting to hear if all of my friends and acquaintances are safe. Since we have a long history with the school, and the town is small, I’m afraid that the list of the victims will have too many familiar names.

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When you all see that picture, you see the fear on the children’s faces and the brave calm and action of the teachers and emergency responders, but I scan the teachers and children to see if I notice a familiar face. I see the parking lot in which I parked so frequently during the years my children were there.

I know that everyone who is watching the news unfold is mourning the lost innocence of those children — all the children — and wondering what we are going to tell our own children. For me, it’s hitting even closer to home. When I hear that the gunman went into the office, I can see it. It’s the office I went to sign in as a library volunteer, or sign my kids out when they had to leave school. Several children were interviewed who were in the gym, and I can see that gym too, just right around the corner from the office.

I am glad that my son wasn’t there that day. But it also makes me miss my home and my community there in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart and my prayers are with them. I wish I could physically be there with them as well.

Sending Our Prayers and Thoughts

All of us here at 5 Minutes for Mom are devastated over this cruel, senseless tragedy.

Our entire team sends our love and prayers to everyone touched by this horror. May we all hold our children tight tonight and pray for those who no longer can.

This post was written by 5 Minutes for Mom regular contributor and 5 Minutes for Books editor, Jennifer Donovan.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 trisha December 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Its just a terrible, terrible thing. I am so glad your children are safe Jennifer and I am sure this is dear to your heart.



2 Jennifer Donovan December 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Thank you. I am so glad they are safe, yet so grieved for my community.


3 Martha C. December 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Jennifer, I have been in tears all day, because knowing you and visiting that community makes it feel like my extended family too!


4 Jennifer Donovan December 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thank you, Martha. I do think that we should all be hit this hard when anything happens, but when we have a connection it is so much more real.


5 Koy M. December 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm

This is truly a tragedy. My heart goes out to you and the Newtown community.


6 Misty December 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm

As I stared at the TV, today, I felt so much for these parents. This hit close to home for me and I didn’t know any of them. I can only imagine what you are feeling, right now.


7 Jean Marie Gunner December 15, 2012 at 6:59 am

I just awoke all warm and safe with my children still tucked in their beds fast asleep in their dreams. I only wish with my sad human heart that my memory of yesterday’s sadness was a nightmare. That I could take some of the grief away from those moms and dads and families and community. I know that this happened, I am awake now. I also know that it is a call for us all to act with th great open heart of human tenderness. We must stand collectively with our hearts and minds pointed in the direction of working collectively as an enlightened nation to end this senseless gun violence. We stand united with fortitude and intelligence and the greates of gentleness and compassion to embrace all of our human family in Newtown. The truth is we are all one and we all feel this rawness and emptiness. I extend my love to you and to all impacted.


8 Jill Robson December 15, 2012 at 7:32 am

Jean Marie, i couldn’t have put it better myself. I have had a knot in my stomach since i heard the news yesterday. I had to allay my sons fear last night when he went to bed,and we had an extra hug for all those parents who couldn’t last night…….


9 Jennifer Donovan December 15, 2012 at 9:19 am

Thanks Jean Marie. It’s truly tragic.


10 Susan December 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Thank you Jean Marie… I agree completely. We must stand together.


11 Dawn December 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I feel unable to say anything meaningful in light of this tragedy. It’s heartbreaking and awful, and I can only hope for some peace for all of those affected.


12 Jennifer B December 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

It is so much harder when it hits close to home. The aurora shooting happened 15 min from where I grew up. Even though I have been long gone there is something eerie about actually knowing the place. I pray all your friends and kids are safe. And all my prayers to all the victims :( So heart wrenching


13 Susan December 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

It is so true about the saying, “it’s too close to home”… it makes everything so much worse. But I feel now with our blogging community we are all so close that I feel it’s somehow part of my home too.


14 Edward J Moskowitz MD FACS ABU December 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

My heart is broken for all the parents and sisters and brothers and families, who have lost their loved one in this tragedy. May The LORD bless you and keep you, each member of my family is broken hearted for your community. Your community is loving and close and seems to care so much for each other, lean on, knowing this fact. We will pray for Newtown, CT. and the families who have lost their loved ones.
God Bless You All
Edward J. Moskowitz MD


15 Rachel Malkah Moskowitz December 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I am Rachel and I am 11 years old. Parents,sisters and brothers and family members, I know how much you love your children, and I feel so very sad about your loss. I have prayed for you and will continue to do so. I’m so sad about the loss of your principal and teachers Newtown Families!!! Hug each other more, listen, just simply listen to lose who have lost family members, stay close together and LOVE, as I see you doing now. My family gets down on their knees to Pray for all of you in Newtown, CT. Jesus loves you and he is right there for you each and every day. We send our love and prayers.
Rachel Malkah Moskowitz GATE


16 Susan December 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Thank you Rachel… you are wise beyond your 11 years.


17 Julie Krienke BSN MSN CFNP December 15, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I am heart broken for all of you in Newtown. Your loss is so great, no family should have to lose a child or teacher or Principal to this horrible tragedy. Our family Dr. Edward Moskowitz, Rachel moskowitz, Julie Krienke, Joey Sutter, and Emily Sutter want to let you know we are praying for you and we see the love in your community. May God Bless You and help you to heal, Jesus is there with you, and Loves you so much
Julie Krienke, Rachel Malkah Moskowitz, Dr edward Moskowitz, Joey Sutter and Emily Sutter from Pocatello, Idaho


18 Joey Sutter December 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I pray for all in Newtown, Your loss is great and healing I know, is a long time down the road. Keep loving as you are doing now, keep giving to those who have lost their children, best friends and teachers and the Principal. Know you are being prayed for by my family Jesus loves you, Hold your strength to Him. My little sister Rachel is gifted and talented and wanted so much to send her condolences, Rachel has such a close relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, when she says she prays for you…..she does and will continue, We all will
Joseph Paul Sutter 21 years old Pocatello Idaho


19 Emily Sutter December 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I am so sorry for your Loss, words don’t seem to cover the devastation to Newton, CT. May the Lord Bless You and We will Pray for you. There is no greater loss than a child, spouse, family member. Our hearts go out to you.
Emily Jean Sutter 22yr Seattle, Washington


20 Susan December 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Our whole team here at 5 Minutes for Mom shares Jennifer’s devastation. To have this happen in the home town one of core team members adds an extra layer of shock. Thank you Jennifer for sharing your personal story and beautiful photo of your son heading off to first grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

My heart breaks with yours.


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