MOODY: ‘Braver than you believe’: Newtown hits home in Destin


Just days after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., we are trying to explain and make sense of this act of unspeakable violence.

Many of us are desperately trying to find the right words to explain it, both to ourselves and to our children.

By now, we’ve read all the articles, discussed with our friends, our neighbors, our pastors, and our educators and decided the best course of action for our children.

For some of us, our kids are too young to understand and we will do our best to protect them, to shield them a little longer from tragedy.

For others, this tragedy will become a defining moment in their growth and development — their Columbine, their Virginia Tech.

Many parents will focus on the bravery and the courage of the teachers, administrators and professionals who lost their own lives to protect those in their care.

As with any tragedy, stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things start to emerge, and it is through these stories that many of us will find hope and faith that the world isn’t always evil or violent — that true heroes exist.

They arrive when you least expect it and need them most.

For me, I keep returning to the reports that many teachers, huddled in locked bathrooms, closets, and classrooms, turned to books to keep the children calm.

I wonder which books they chose, which stories they bravely read during this scary time. Did these teachers opt for the timeless spunk of Madeline, who to the tiger just said “Poo-Poo?”

Did they choose the classic stories of Dr. Seuss, with rhythms and rhymes, words and cadence as familiar to these young children as their own names?

“It was cold outside/It was too wet to play/so we sat in the house/all that cold, cold, wet day.”

I wonder, which words I would have chosen to share, which words would have comforted me and those in my care, which words would have made me feel brave and inspired me to protect those children.

Tonight, when Alex and Harper ask for one more story, one more chapter, or 15 more minutes of reading time, I’ll oblige. I’ll treasure the stories they chose and the lessons they learn, and remember that, for some parents, there won’t be one more time.

Over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of discussions about guns, violence, safety and schools, and about mental health and treatment. Many of these discussions will be heated, if not downright nasty at times.

For now, however, I’m going to focus on the words that brought light into the darkness, on the words that inspired courage and bravery, and hopefully, healing.

If you feel moved to donate to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, donations are being managed by the local United Way Affiliate, (www. newtown.uwwesternct.org).

Donations can be made online or by mail at Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

Funds raised will be used to assist the bereaved families by helping offset or covering the cost of final arrangements, lost pay during time away from work, and counseling services for the students.

“Promise me, you’ll always remember; you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh.

This was true of the teachers, the students, administrators, staff, and first responders in Connecticut, and I know it’s true here in Destin as well.

Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.