At President Obama's second inauguration, when poet Richard Blanco got up to read his poem "One Today" he mentioned what happened in Newtown. He said, "the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever." As someone who felt the need to express myself through storytelling after this tragedy - and as a child who sat in those very desks - the phrase "the impossible vocabulary of sorrow" resonated with me. How do you put what happened into words? I went back to sandy hook one weekend, after the funerals were over, and the media had mostly left, to attempt to capture how the town is doing- as i know the worst is yet to come....
What was once a sign signifying the place I, and so many others, learned to read, write, and made lifelong friends is now a blank pole. It's surreal, a nightmare that those with ties to sandy hook can't escape.
"There are days when you kind forget about it, then you'll drive past a mailbox that has a ribbon on it, or one of the families of the victims and it kind of hits you all over again," says Sandy Hook resident Rachael Marlin.
Lisa Cascella, also a Sandy Hook resident is going through what a lot of people are. "It's still difficult at times, and sometimes I actually feel guilty...I I went to get a manicure and pedicure, and you know, a manicure pedicure, you're relaxing, and I just started welling up crying saying I feel absolutely guilty doing this.
Victoria Marlin now lives in Manhattan, but grew up in Sandy Hook. "It comes in waves, definitely...coming home at first feels really normal, it's where I grew up were I'm used to coming, it's the same, and then it kind of hits you that it's not the same, it'll never be the same.
"It's just a horrific thing that happened." says Cascella, "These were babies, they didn't even start their life yet"
It will no longer be a quiet New England town known for its giant labor day parade, wonderful schools, and old-fashioned general store. On December 14th and for days after the typically quiet downtown became a mecca for media and memorials. People from all over the world found themselves needing to be here, to share in the pain perhaps, or to just see what it's like-and they continue to wander in, and send whatever it is they can. Bits of memorials remain. The spectacle this has turned into is fascinating, and the worldwide support startling and beautiful.
"The outpouring is just tremendous,," says business owner Eunice Laverty, "both with the mail - it just doesn't stop, it doesn't stop."
"If anything good could come from such a horrible act it's the way people have been treating each other since it happened," says Sandy Hook resident Amanda Watson.
We all know life goes on, but how?
"A lot of people are just getting up, doing their daily routine, going to work, grocery shopping, and trying to have some type of normalcy," says Cascella, "but deep down it's not, and I don't know if it can ever get back."
"It's starting over," says Sandy Hook resident Hillary Smith, "I don't believe it's called a normal, I don't think it's ever going to be a normal, define normal."
"We're trying to figure that out and it's going to be a while," says Sandy Hook resident Eric Israel, "I was talking with some people the other day and we were talking about what's going to happen, and going back and supporting the stores and restaurants and all that kind of stuff, and we got to figure that out."
There's a quiet understanding as you walk around, an unfortunate strange bond that has formed among town residents. There's a strong desire to protect those who lost loved ones, and shout from the rooftops how wonderful this place really is. As a town that feels violated by tragedy, the people of sandy hook, of Newtown, have never been prouder.