Ten years after Sandy Hook, a mother shares her pain and her search for healing

Jenny Hubbard can’t believe a decade has passed since the shooting death of her six-year-old daughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the worst school shooting in US history.

Since December 14, 2012, “families have been left with a hole in their hearts, and our nation is missing a piece of its soul,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday, establishing a national “Day of Remembrance” for this slaughter.

That day, Catherine Violet Hubbard was one of 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven and six women, killed by a young man in Newtown, a bucolic corner of the New England region in the American Northeast.

This massacre perpetrated in five minutes by Adam Lanza – who had previously killed his mother and after the mass murder committed suicide – shocked the United States and the world. But it did not lead to changes in gun law in a country where they are plentiful.

“It’s a reminder of the transience of time,” Hubbard, 50, says of Wednesday’s anniversary, which, like every year, will be marked with quiet reflection in this city of just 27,000.

Since that fateful day in 2012, Jenny Hubbard has the feeling of having “lived a lifetime” because since then everything is “totally different”.

“And at the same time, it’s like yesterday,” he says quietly.

This mother remembers that glorious winter morning, ten days before Christmas, when she walked her eight-year-old daughter and brother to the school bus stop.

“They were already thinking about the holidays. It was one of those mornings that I remember as rushed and chaotic, but also as one of the best mornings we had,” he says.

At 09:30 (1430 GMT), Lanza, 20, entered the school armed with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle and two pistols after shooting his mother to death at their home.

“We got a phone call that something had happened, and the rest of the day was this haze of knowing something terrible had happened but not understanding its magnitude,” says Hubbard.

Hubbard learned of his daughter’s death at a fire station where authorities had taken the surviving children.

“Most people were petrified, (it was) the unthinkable loss,” he says.

Slowly, Hubbard says that he has been able to heal, thanks to the kindness of others and his religious faith.

“The first step was getting out of bed for my son. I had to do it because he had a right to live. Then, day after day, I would take another step,” Hubbard recounts.

But there are always dark days: the start of school every year and every mass shooting, like in May in Uvalde, Texas, when 19 schoolchildren and two teachers were shot and killed by a young man.

“The journey is not easy, it is lonely and dark at times,” he says.

For decades, in the United States there have been attacks with firearms in all areas: schools, places of worship, supermarkets. According to the Gun Violence Archive site, more than 600 mass murders (so considered when at least four people are killed or injured) have mourned the United States since the beginning of 2022.

Ten years ago, then-President Barack Obama wept as he addressed the nation over the Sandy Hook massacre. And a few days ago he said that December 14, 2012 would be marked as the worst day of his presidency (2009-2017).

Biden, Obama’s vice president in 2012, said Wednesday that he is “still fighting” to ban again, as happened between 1994 and 2004, assault rifles, weapons with high-capacity magazines.

Following the Uvalde massacre, Congress passed legislation to prevent potentially dangerous people from buying such weapons. But most lawmakers and the powerful gun lobby, the NRA, oppose a truly binding law, arguing it would be unconstitutional.

This outrages the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Jeremy Stein: “Civilians should not have access to the weapons we give to soldiers,” he told AFP.

As a public display of grief and remembrance, Newtown unveiled a circular pool in memory of the dead in November. White roses rested on each name this week.

Nearby is the 35-acre Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, which Hubbard founded in honor of his daughter, who loved animals.

Hubbard wonders what a 16-year-old Catherine would be like, but tries to hold on to everything they went through together.

“I’ll never understand why that’s not possible in my life, but I carry with me the six years that she shared with me and the memories,” he says.


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