Friday, January 25, 2013

Catherine Violet Hubbard

The events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 were so overwhelmingly tragic and unbelievable that it tended to make things somewhat abstract.  I found myself thinking in numbers, 20 children, 6 adults, all dead - there was no individuality in the numbers.  No searing sense of any one specific hole in the universe.

Then came the pictures of each 6 and 7 year old but somehow it continued to be this massive collage of the more "safely" viewed overall group.  I know I'm not explaining this well but for some reason, at least in my experience, large numbers are easier to deal with than focusing on one.  10 million killed in the holocaust.  A horrible thing, but too big to really grasp or even, in some ways, mourn.  But meet one individual with a tattoo on her arm and listen to her stories and, BAM, it all hits home, becomes personal, becomes something that will haunt your waking and sleeping hours.

That's what happened to me when I saw the photo of Catherine Hubbard.
Catherine Violet Hubbard
The eyes and the smile, and what I saw behind them, were mesmerizing.  I could actually "see" the life that lay before her.  And what a good life that was going to be.  There's so much humor in that face.  And an openness that says "Got a challenge for me?  Bring it on!"

She would have been the kind of child/young girl/woman I always envied.

Cathy as a child, rambunctious, curious, leader, Katie as a tomboy-ish, but feminine, young teen and Catherine, the take-no prisoners and don't-waste-my- time-with-stupidity proud and lovely woman.

I found out what I could about Catherine (I can't assume that she was called Cathy) but it wasn't much.  Initially, all I knew was that she was 6 years old and would remain 6 years old forever.

Then came an amazing connection.  In her obituary, her parents asked for donations to a Newtown Animal Shelter in lieu of flowers, due to Catherine's enormous love of animals.  Animals have been my great love, almost my religion, ever since I can remember.

 “Catherine loved all animals,” say the Hubbards. “She would chase down strangers just to pet their dogs, squeal with delight as butterflies landed on her arm and sit for hours watching baby birds in a nest. We would overhear her whispering to insects and animals…her words: tell all your friends that I’m kind.”

I instantly made a contribution to the shelter in Catherine's name and vowed to make that an annual thing to do.  It was all I could do to try to "cement" a relationship between me and that darling girl.

Just recently I received a letter from the shelter, which said in part:  Many of you asked how donations in Catherine’s memory would be used. Today, it is our great pleasure to announce plans to build the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a place where all creatures, great and small, can know the touch of a kind hand and be safe from harm.  

I totally lost it.  "All creatures, great and small, can know the touch of a kind hand and be safe from harm."  Before Catherine entering my heart, that alone would have brought me to tears.  But to know that that wonderous goal was going to be carried out in her name was too much to bear.

All I wanted at that point to be as I was in my 20s, 30s or even 40s.  That Marianne would have instantly quit her job and moved to Newtown to say "How can I help bring this sanctuary to fruition?" 

Unfortunately, my life at this point doesn't allow me to spontaneously drop everything and follow my instincts any more.

So, money, prayers and perhaps an occasional visit to Newtown to see the progress is all I can do.  It won't be enough.  There is nothing that can ever be "enough."

She is 6 years old and she is dead.  I am not a formally religious person, but I have to believe she is somewhere where she is "safe from harm" and where she feels nothing other than the "touch of kind hands."

If anyone reading this wants to blow a kiss to Catherine, send whatever you can to:

  Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
The Animal Shelter

P. O Box 475
Newtown, CT 06470



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