When an unthinkable tragedy occurs, the entire nation – indeed, the world – joins in sorrow and support. For a short while, at least, we become one big human family, undivided by race, religion or economic class.
But the closer our relationship to the events, the deeper the pain becomes. The family and friends of victims suffer most, of course; yet those who grew up or live in the affected area feel a personal connection that distant observers don’t. Just ask anyone who ever spent their summers in Seaside Heights…or attended Columbine High School…or worked in the Murrah Building…or woke up in Manhattan on 9/11 thinking it was going to be an ordinary day.
Or ask Jenna von Oy, a proud daughter of Newtown, Connecticut.
In a heartfelt essay for People, Jenna writes about growing up in the quiet New England town. “It is where I was brought home from the hospital, attended my first day of kindergarten, learned to ride my first bicycle and climbed my first tree,” she says.
Even though Jenna went on to Hollywood fame in Blossom, The Parkers and many other TV and movie projects, Newtown is never far from her heart. She married Brad Bratcher there, and their daughter, Gray Audrey, was baptized just a few months ago at St. Rose of Lima Church. She never imagined that her church would become a gathering place to remember victims of a massacre too horrific for words.
Two of the grieving parents were Jenna’s own high-school classmates. “I’m grief-stricken for them,” she tweeted yesterday. “Impossible to reconcile.”
While the rest of us wonder and worry: Could it happen in my school? In my town?, Jenna must surely have additional questions weighing on her mind: What if I’d moved back…married sooner…started my family earlier?
She also worries that the town she loves so much could lose its reputation as a beautiful and peaceful place to live. “Newtown is so much more than this shocking incident, and I desperately hope America will see that,” she writes.
As her hometown struggles to recover and carry on, Jenna’s heart and prayers are with everyone there. And, like the rest of us, she’s holding her child closer than ever.
[Photo: via Twitter]
Read more of Shana’s writing at Momsperiments.
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