While the television told the story bit by bit as information became available, I felt this overwhelming need to do something. I and millions of others were trying to comprehend these terrible happenings.
And those feelings didn’t go away, so a few weeks later I did what i knew how to do; I called the Newtown Parks Department and offered to plant 26 trees. I knew that I could find people to help me with this big project. Then came the letdown, “We’ve received many offers of 26 trees and one set has arrived. Thank you but we can’t accommodate more.” We talked a while and I told the director about the Susie Forest. “Oh! I have a forwarded email from Victoria Soto’s family who don’t live in Newtown and have been left out of the loop for many of the activities. I’ll send it on.”
I thought about this for a while and realized that some of the families of staff members also didn’t live in Newtown and perhaps I could do something for them. I had Donna Soto’s address and I could offer her family a tree in Victoria’s home town. I wrote an email explaining who I was, what the Susie Forest was, and offered her a tree. I didn’t send it. I fussed and worried that I would be intrusive, that I would upset the family, and I would get a “NO!” After a few weeks I got mad at myself and pushed the ‘send’ button.
Shortly an answer came, “I love the idea of a tree.” Thursday we planted a Liberty Elm at the playground built in her honor in Longbrook Park in Stratford. Vicki’s family wrote tree-grams and shoveled and ate cookies as we talked about the loss of these wonderful women in our families. Their pain is so new and I hope the tree will be a place of solace for them. As we talked more children came to play on the bright green and pink (Vicki’s favorite colors) play equipment and there was laughter in the air. Vicki’s love of children will continue to have an outlet.