I can’t imagine being Noah Pozner’s mother.
Very shortly after the murder of her son, Sandy Hook’s youngest victim, Veronique Pozner spoke with Naomi Zeveloff, a writer for the Jewish Daily Forward, about her son—how he lived and how he died. She also revealed that she had asked to see Noah’s body before he was buried, because she felt it was her role as his mother, not only to see everything, but to stand in testament to what Noah’s legacy could be.
“’I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad, the ugly. It is not up to me to say I am only going to look at you and deal with you when you are alive, that I am going to block out the reality of what you look like when you are dead. And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.’”
These are heartbreaking words, raw in their simplicity. They describe an act of bravery beyond anything I could begin to comprehend. Many who have written and debated in the month since the shootings have tried to honor the victims with memorials and tributes, but as Kim LaCapria eloquently wrote in her post on The Inquisitr, even the graphic words need to be part of our perspective.
“And it seems that regardless of where you stand on any of the issues stirred up by the tragic violence in Newtown, we all owe it to the surviving families to hear not just the uplifting stories of togetherness and bravery after the Sandy Hook shootings, but the unvarnished facts of the situation as well. The six-year-old boy who was shot not only in the face in his first-grade classroom, but an additional ten times as well.”
It seems Mrs. Pozner’s hope is that what happened to Noah will leave some lasting legacy; she asked Gov. Dannel Malloy to view Noah’s body before the family laid him to rest. She wanted the Governor to have the memory of the effect anytime he considered legislation about the cause of Noah’s death.
In the days that followed the devastating killings in Newtown, there was another case that involved gun violence closer to where I live in Wilton. An alleged domestic violence situation ended with a husband and wife both being shot in the face by a single shot, the husband with life-threatening injuries. Once he recovered enough for the case to move forward, the police brought charges against him, and a photo was released to the media.
This image of his disfigured face ran on Patch and in every local media outlet. It was a disturbing, yet relatively tame illustration of the kind of havoc ammunition can cause to human flesh. It’s jarring, and some readers found it upsetting and inappropriate to view.
However, it’s the missing piece in the puzzle that is the gun violence debate. If we can admire the romantic notion of a hunter culling an overburdened wildlife population using semi-automatic guns, if we can celebrate the adrenaline-pumping cartoon images of video game brutality, and if we can champion a flag-waving, bullet-draped armored-up gun enthusiast, surely we can include a face with a gauze-stuffed bullet hole gazing out at us from our morning news.
It just completes the picture.
So, as I write this on the one-month anniversary of the deaths of Noah Pozner, his 19 little friends and his six teachers, please hold in your mind the look of his sweet little boy face as well as the heartbreak of a mother who had to say goodbye to a very different last image.