Some days I stop and it hits me.....this really happened. And it doesn't feel possible. The pain we feel when we focus on the loss is the only thing that convinces you that something this terrible actually happened in the town that you grew up in. And that pain brings you a tiny connection to those that are no longer here. In a town that felt like time stood still. Where nothing bad could ever happen. Because nothing ever did. Find a Newtown resident. Someone that experienced Newtown as a child. They'll tell you that Newtown was a bubble. We were a universe unto ourselves. If you told someone where you were from back in the day, they wouldn't know where you were from until you explained that it was right next to Danbury or Fairfield. We liked our bubble. You could go a few towns over for excitement and then come home to the safety and security of all that is Newtown. Now we are on the map. And for all the wrong reasons.
I was on vacation a few months ago. And when you are on vacation, you always end up making friends with other people on vacation- at a restaurant, the beach, whatever. Everyone is happy and talkative because it's vacation. The inevitable question comes up. "So, where are you folks from?" Deep breath. Head high. Chest out. "Newtown." And they make that face. You know that they know. So you don't let them hang in that awkward place. We've made it our job to be the front line of defense for our town. To show the world we will do our part to make the world better on the backs of our experience. So in response, we put on that brave face and we sing the praises of the all the reasons to love Newtown and we talk about how proud we are to be from a place that has rallied so hard behind families that have lost more than anyone should.
Caroline and I ran together back on July 21st. I picked a race for her that was being put on in honor of a young man that, by everything that I read, had a zest for life and loved to dance. From what I read of Caroline, she had that same passion. When I began to get tired, I called on Caroline to help me "dance" through it. I thought of how children never get winded, never lose speed, and I tried to channel that energy into my own legs. It always helps me to visualize the person I am running for that day and that race was no different. The tightness in my chest lifts immediately when I thought of Caroline. My legs had enough left to speed me through to the finish line. And when I crossed over the line, the announcer of the race called out, "Crossing the finish line now is Lindsay K. Running in honor of Caroline Previdi from Sandy Hook. Great job, Lindsay!" I don't know how he got my information or how he knew, but he helped make Caroline feel ever more present with me over the line. Like she was holding my hand over the line. I live for the moments like that through all of this. To have at least one moment in the race that I can feel, without a shadow of a doubt, that the person I am running for that day is with me. No questions asked. And it heals my heart a bit.
I have this visual. I picture my heart and it's fractured into 26 different, jagged pieces. And every time I cross a finish line, one piece slides back into place. A little rougher for the wear, but back in place none the less. I'm curious to see what my heart looks like after 10 more finish line crosses. Hopefully I find that it's whole again.
Thank you for being with me that day Caroline. Forever in our hearts.
Here is Caroline Previdi. The 16th angel I have now run for: