Friday, December 21, 2012

Remembering the 27th

This morning in Newton, CT, twenty six bells rang at the town hall in remembrance of those who lost their lives one week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This is a good thing. The right thing.

But in my humble opinion, not a complete thing--because one week ago, there were twenty seven people who lost their lives in Newton, CT.  I'm not entirely sure why, but in most of the lists of victims that I've seen floating around the internet, Nancy Lanza is often omitted. As I'm sure we're all aware, Adam Lanza's mother was actually the first victim that day...and yet, she isn't remembered as the others.

In the comments on a post from BlogHer this morning, one blogger stated that they left her off their list because they feel that she is complicit in the crime due to the fact that she kept guns in her house with her son who was mentally ill. I think that whether vocalized or not, this viewpoint probably explains why we largely talk about the 26 victims instead of the 27. Why it seems uncomfortable, perhaps, to group Mrs. Lanza's name with the others. On some level, I think we blame Mrs. Lanza. We may privately wonder how she could have raised a son who would do something so horrible, and wonder if she was at least partially to blame. We wonder, privately, who would be dumb enough to keep so many guns in a home with someone who was mentally ill. I think that as a society, we think she's partially responsible. Personally,  I disagree with this viewpoint wholeheartedly--because with as much press about Adam Lanza as we've been bombarded with in the past week, there is really very little that we actually know for certain.

We know that "sources" and "friends of the family" have speculated that he may have had Asperger's. We know that others have said he had a personality disorder, but not which one. We know that someone "close to the family" said that Mrs. Lanza had taken her son to a psychiatrist, but we don't know that for certain, nor do we know why. We don't know whether he was currently on medicine or receiving any sort of mental health treatment.

We don't know whether the guns in Mrs. Lanza's home were kept in a gun safe. We don't know whether it was locked. We don't know how much ammo was in the house or where it was kept. We don't know how much gun safety training Adam and his brother had received. We don't know how guns were talked about in the home, or whether they were treated with the level of respect that a gun deserves.

We do know that Mrs. Lanza was killed by her son, likely while she slept. We do know that she had family too, who no doubt love and miss her...I'd venture to go so far as to even say that they miss her just as much as the families of all 26 other victims miss their loved ones.

I know this is maybe an uncomfortable idea for some--that Mrs. Lanza be remembered along with the other victims at Sandy Hook Elementary that day. I understand. But I also respectfully ask you to consider this--if Adam Lanza had killed his mother while she slept, and not gone on to kill anyone else, would we consider her a victim? Or would we still think she was implicitly responsible? I'd venture to guess the former. And for that reason, today I remember all 27 victims from Newtown, CT who lost their lives one week ago:
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
  • Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6 
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Avielle Richman, 6
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison N. Wyatt, 6
  • Mary Sherlach, 56
  • Victoria Soto, 27
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30
  • Dawn Hochsprung, 47
  • Rachel Davino, 29
  • Nancy Lanza, 54
 We remember.


  1. I love you for this, Meredith. Agreed.

  2. Well said. I've been avoiding most discussions about the entire thing (I'm having a severe problem with my anxiety right now and moving away from my doctor isn't helping. I don't know why I feel the need to justify this to you. I just don't want you to think I'm heartless, I suppose.) but I can't miss it on instagram and stuff, and I don't understand why people aren't including her. Obviously, I understand people who don't want to go as far as saying 28 (I think if I had the courage to think about it, I just might actually consider it as 28) but I do wholeheartedly agree that it was 27.

    And you're such an amazing writer. Seriously.

  3. THANK YOU. My mother and I have been thinking the EXACT same thing (and I actually got into an accidental argument with someone over this on Wednesday).

  4. Very good point, Meredith. As always.

  5. I have wondered the exact same thing. I will always remember.

  6. I have wondered the exact same thing. I will always remember.

  7. Thank you, you have a wonderful gift for words.

  8. Love this post and agree. I've been wanting to write something very similar and have been too sick to manage much, let alone an eloquent post such as this.


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