It has been five years since our grandson Noah was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Five years. The grief and shock are not letting up. The loss is there, unyielding, massive, like a rock in the middle of a rushing river. Time has been divided ever since into a before and an after.
I miss Noah every day even though I didn’t see him every day when he was alive. We lived on opposite coasts but there were Skype conversations, trips, summer vacations, plans for the future. The simple joy of knowing that he was in the world. Like his siblings and his cousins. Grandparents may not see their grandkids every day or even every week or month but love simmers on regardless and it pours out hot and fierce.
So I had Noah on my mind, as I always do, when I spied the above stencil on a wall in Paris a few years ago. It didn’t occur to me to jot down the exact location. We had been walking out and about for a couple of hours already and I think we were in Belleville or close to it. I took the picture and stood there, staring.
That little boy was Noah. No doubt about it. But how could it be? To the best of my knowledge there existed no such photo of him. Yet he was the little boy in the stencil. Same silhouette, same head, same thick hair, same nose, same posture. Pure Noah. Absorbed in his thoughts. A dark-haired Little Prince.
I sent the picture to my daughter, Noah’s mom. We googled it. The same piece had appeared on city walls in Berlin, in Stavanger, in Istanbul. At first I couldn’t discover the name of the artist. But I wanted to secure permission to post the picture, so I tried again. I finally stumbled on a clue that led me to Icy and Sot, two brothers, stencil artists from Iran then living in Brooklyn, NY. I wrote to them and they kindly gave me leave to use the image. Thank you, Icy and Sot. (Later they also sent me two prints. What kind souls these two are.)
I asked what their inspiration for the art had been. They wrote back: “We made the Walking Alone stencil for the first time about six years ago in Iran. Since then wherever we travel we always put that up, it is our signature piece. I think the inspiration came from that sometimes we felt like a kid that is not paying attention to what’s happening around him in this crazy world or he is sad because of that and some time he is just reflective as innocent kid.”
It fit. Noah had his ebullient moods but he also had his “old soul” moments. I will never forget his pensive eyes the last time I saw him, the Tuesday before the shooting. We were on Skype, his sisters had left to go look for something in another room and, motionless for once, he stared into my eyes for a long time without saying a word.
I remember something gripping my heart but I had no premonition. None.
Noah had been three when Icy and Sot had created the Walking Alone stencil. The little boy they portrayed looks like he could be six. Noah had just turned six when he was gunned down.
I don’t understand how Icy and Sot came up with Noah’s likeness long before pictures of him started circulating widely on the Internet. But they did.
I don’t know what guided our steps to that quiet Parisian street on that particular day but something did.
I’ll leave it at that.
Nothing makes sense about the horror that enfolded at the school on this terrible day five years ago and because it is utterly senseless, I know none of us will ever come to terms with it.
We just have to live with the consequences and with the certitude that painful as it is, love is the only link we have with the ones we lost on December 14, 2012.
And that makes sense.
(This post is adapted from another post which I wrote two years ago and later removed from Farine.)
Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about Noah and your family.
I wish I had the words to say. Just God Bless his beautiful soul and beautiful family
Thank you, Al.
Janet Henningsen says
I can’t believe it has been five years. I think of you often and of Noah – especially this time of year.
I don’t comment here much any more. My own life has taken an unexpected direction and I am in my own time of coming to terms with the unexpected….A good friend and I candidly say that someday we will co-author a book about what being ‘older’ is really like….hardly the calm we expected after our children have grown and mostly left our ‘nests’.
I send you a hug straight from my heart my dear bread friend.
Thank you, JanetH. I will write soon. Sending love.
Thank you, Deanna.
MC, when you write about bread your clarity of expression helps us to understand and enjoy what you experienced and feel. This is also true when you write about Noah. We feel your love for him and the pain that resulted when he was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.
I am sorry that my best wishes can not erase the harm that was done that day and ease the pain your family will now carry forward. We your readers have come to know and love Noah and thank you for reminding us of his wonderful and special life and its tragic ending.
Thank you, Frank.
Liz H says
Today my heart felt heavy just thinking about Noah and all of the others. Noah holds a place in my heart because he looked so much like my son, Ari. I’m sending you and your family hugs on this difficult day.
Thank you, Liz.
Thank you, Liz!
Avis Fletcher says
Never a day goes by that I don’t think of Noah. Wishing you and your family peace during the holiday season. Love..
Thank you, Avis!
Noah story touched my heart and soul five years ago and he is and will always be remembered. Hugs to you and your family MC!
Thank you, Hilmar!
Roger LaRade says
I am a recent subscriber. Your writing about Noah touched me so much; it’s made what had remained a distant horror very real. Thank you for this.
I am glad. Thank you, Roger.
So beautiful. Noah and his classmates continue to touch us and remind us of life’s fragility. I hope that knowing he is still in the hearts of so many of us who didn’t even know him helps to ease the burden of your pain. Warmth and love to you and your family.
Thank you, Shari! Yes, it is a comfort to know that he isn’t forgotten.
Thank you, Shari.
I have thought of your precious Noah so many times since that awful day. My son was 6 that day; just a few months older than Noah. Something about Noah’s beautiful eyes reminded me of my son and he is the victim I have chosen to remember and pray for these past 5 years. My son is now in 6th grade and a lot of life has happened since December 14, 2012. I weep for your family that you have not had Noah with you on this earth since then and have been robbed of those moments. I wish peace for you and your entire family. He is not forgotten.
Thank you, Stacie. It is a comfort that you remember him. And yes, these moments (past, present and future) are very painful to contemplate.
Erin Gill says
I know this just a little note, but I want to send it with a message of love and warm thoughts…. thinking of you and remembering Noah.
Thank you, Erin! I well remember you too.
I’m a couple weeks late this year, but I read your blog on the anniversary of Noah’s tragic death every year. I don’t know you or Noah or his family, but his story has always touched me and I think of him often. I’ll never forget his face from the photos.
Thank you for writing a tribute every year.
Thank you, Elana!
I just wanted to let you know I think of your grandson, and the other children and their families often. I hope the energy all of us who mourn with you have flows to you and gives you strength and love.
With warm thoughts and prayers,
It does for sure. Thank you, Lois.
Thank you. Heart-broken thinking of the victims and the families now joining this circle of pain and grief.
Francis-Olive Hampton says
Hello my hero and longtime bread friend. I was just talking about Noah the other day, with my boyfriend. I talked about you. How you inspired me. I spoke of the unfairness of life, and felt helpless and angry. That stencil is beautiful, and it is Noah. I think of him sometimes, I know it’s strange. I realize I think of it when I’m thinking of being helpless in the world as our nation sinks deeper and deeper into disrepair. Noah looks hauntingly like my good friend’s son in Maine. Whenever he sends me pictures of him, I think of Noah (I really should share his photo with you). Funny thing: his name is Noah too.
I hope that you are doing well. I’m very happy that Noah lives on. He travels through the world, pensive, lost in thought, perhaps helping us see that the wars we engage in, the anger and hatred we feed lead to nothing but helplessness and loss. I like to think of him, now, after seeing this stencil, as a sage to warn us all that our bitterness will consume us, and that we must all strive to effloresce unto our higher selves so that we may restore the beauty in this world, the compassion and love, once again.
Thinking of you and letting you know that you don’t have to bear the weight alone. I’ll take a piece of it for you.
So much love.
Thank you so much, Francis-Olive! I find it amazing that you should have visited Farine just now as I was thinking of you only two days ago and wondering how you were doing. Please be in touch privately and let me know.
Big hugs, MC
Thinking of you and Noah…
Yippee from TFL
Thank you, Yippee.
Thinking of you and wishing you well!
I just put 2+2 together about your family and and an ongoing despicable story that’s again in the news today. Perhaps your wonderful blog has become another victim. Our hearts go out to you and your family.