Sandy Hook: Six months later, families still struggling with terrible grief
Today marks six months since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six adults. Although the massacre committed by Adam Lanza happened half a year ago, the wounds remain fresh as parents and residents of the little Newtown, Connecticut town remember the most tragic day they've ever experienced.
Many of these parents will relive one of the saddest days our nation has seen today, but the reminder hits hardest with the fathers of the victims. With Father's Day cming up this weekend, these dads who have lost children will inevitably be struck once again by their absence.
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Waitress Pat DiStassio recalls one deceased student who frequented the diner. "Neil Heslin used to come in with his little guy Jesse all the time," she told the New York Daily News. "Sit right over there in that booth. They were so cute together, father and son. He still comes in. We sit. We talk. But he's hurting. It will be a sad Father's Day for him, that's for sure."
Stephen Kowalski lost his son Chase in the shooting, and says that Father's Day is just going to be another day for him. Kowalski tells the newspaper that he doesn't like the idea of making a big deal of the six-month mark of the shooting because of the memories it brings back.
"I don't want to live in a town that constantly reminds me of my son's loss. I won't be going to any vigils. I think people are well-intentioned, but I don't need daily triggers of sadness," Kowalski insists. "I choose life and love and move ahead. I get up in the morning, bring my kids to school, go to the gym, meet friends for lunch, and work on the Chase's Place charity in my son's honor. I shop. I pick up my kids. I live a life and feel Chase with me all the time."
Dennis Stratford's 6-year-old son was in the school at the time of the shooting but was unharmed and he remains grateful that his son survived. He tells the newspaper, "I'm just happy to have him for Father's Day. I'm one of the lucky ones who had a kid in Sandy Hook school that morning six months ago who came home. "
It's been half a year and this shooting and it still has the same effect it had on me when I first learned about it. I can't fathom what its like to lose a child in such a gruesome way and then to have to be reminded of that day constantly. This Father's Day will be as difficult as most other day's have been since these children were murdered. They may try to live life as normally as possible, but the shadow of that awful day will always remain.
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