"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Unthinkable

Tough but well-written story about the aftermath of the Newtown shooting by Eli Saslow in the Washington Post:

They had promised to try everything, so Mark Barden went down into the basement to begin another project in memory of Daniel. The families of Sandy Hook Elementary were collaborating on a Mother’s Day card, which would be produced by a marketing firm and mailed to hundreds of politicians across the country. “A difference-maker,” the organizers had called it. Maybe if Mark could find the most arresting photo of his 7-year-old son, people would be compelled to act.

It hardly mattered that what Mark and his wife, Jackie, really wanted was to ignore Mother’s Day altogether, to stay in their pajamas with their two surviving children, turn off their phones and reward themselves for making it through another day with a glass of Irish whiskey neat.

“Our purpose now is to force people to remember,” Mark said, so down he went into his office to sift through 1,700 photos of the family they had been.

The Bardens had already tried to change America’s gun laws by studying the Second Amendment and meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office. They had spoken at tea party rallies, posed for People magazine and grieved on TV with Katie Couric. They had taken advice from a public relations firm, learning to say “magazine limits” and not “magazine bans,” to say “gun responsibility” and never “gun control.” When none of that worked, they had walked the halls of Congress with a bag of 200 glossy pictures and beseeched lawmakers to look at their son: his auburn hair curling at the ears, his front teeth sacrificed to a soccer collision, his arms wrapped around Ninja Cat, the stuffed animal that had traveled with him everywhere, including into the hearse and underground.

Almost six months now, and so little had gotten through. So maybe a Mother’s Day card. Maybe that.

Mark turned on his computer and began looking for the right picture. “Something lighthearted,” he said. “Something sweet.” He had been sitting in the same chair Dec. 14, when he received an automated call about a Code Red Alert, and much of the basement had been preserved in that moment. Nobody had touched the foosball table, because Daniel had been the last to play. His books and toy trains sat in their familiar piles, gathering dust. The basement had always been Daniel’s space, and some days Mark believed he could still smell him here, just in from playing outside, all grassy and muddy.

Now it was Daniel’s face staring back at him on the computer screen, alit in an orange glow as he blew out seven candles on a birthday cake in September.

[Photo Credit: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post]


1 RagingTartabull   ~  Jun 11, 2013 9:48 am

I tried on Sunday and I couldn't do it, made it halfway through the first page. I seriously might have to wait at least another year before even attempting it.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 11, 2013 9:52 am

Yeah, I hear you man. I didn't post this to have a discussion about guns but just to point out something that was well-written about a painful subject.

3 BobbyB   ~  Jun 11, 2013 10:46 am

Brutal read but good writing. Don't read at work unless you want people to wonder why you're crying at your desk.

4 newbs   ~  Jun 11, 2013 11:06 am

[3] Too late...I've already gone through 4 or 5 tissues.

5 RagingTartabull   ~  Jun 11, 2013 11:27 am

well I made it through, and now have a splitting headache. Not to put too fine a political point on it, but I had to read that New Republic cover story from a few weeks ago to make myself feel just a LITTLE bit better.

6 Ara Just Fair   ~  Jun 11, 2013 11:47 am

I just read this sitting in my empty classroom. Chilling. It seems like yesterday this happened. sigh.... Those poor families.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver