Newtown victim’s mom pens open letter to Orlando families
HARTFORD, Conn. — A woman whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School is expressing her grief over the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead.
Nelba Marquez-Greene posted a letter on the memorial Facebook page for her daughter, Ana Grace, who was one of the 20 first-graders and six educators fatally shot in December 2012.
In it, notes CBS Hartford, Connecticut affiliate WFSB-TV, she describes how hearing about the Orlando shooting took her back to the horror she felt as one of those waiting to hear news about a loved one.
“I was sleeping in because we just got back from working in Canada,” the letter begins. “My friends came over for our scheduled morning walk. I didn’t have my phone. I came home and my phone was buzzing like crazy. “Are you okay? “Where are you?” “I’m praying for you!” “I love you!”
“I still didn’t understand. I no longer have a personal Facebook and the TV wasn’t on. I don’t sign in to the news. I saw it on Twitter and watched the numbers rise in real time. First some dead, then multiple, then 20 and now 50.
“My first reaction was visceral. I know the horror of waiting to hear. A helicopter flew overhead. It made everything too real. Too familiar. I panicked. I called my friend. I cried. Fifty people. I am reliving being one of the family members in wait.”
She later added, “I am sorry that our tragedy here in Sandy Hook wasn’t enough to save your loved ones,” she wrote. “I tried and I won’t stop trying. Don’t you dare even listen to even ONE person who may insinuate that somehow this is your loved ones fault because they were gay or any other reason. Nor is it God’s wrath.”
Marquez-Greene tells the victims’ families they are on a “forever journey.” She advises them to embrace the love that will come their way and delete, ignore or put aside “the ugly.”
She also urges people not to send money to Orlando until they know it will be received by the victims and not a fund that could use it for other purposes.
“Millions were poured in to Sandy Hook. Very little actually reached us,” she said. “And victims of gun violence will have a lifetime of need. Before you give – ask where your dollars will go. Specify that you want it to go to victim families.”
She advises friends that victims will need their help and urges people to bring up gun violence in their houses of worship and community groups.
She also promises her family will learn about each of the Orlando victims and say their names aloud.
“We will remember your children,” she wrote. “As you remembered and learned about ours.”