In the aftermath of the horrendous acts on December 14th in Newtown, CT, I want to focus on something that has both inspired me and given me a moment to pause in my own life. This story is about the love of George Hochsprung and his wife Dawn. It’s also about the survivors of the victims who are victims themselves.
I won’t pretend to know the Hochsprungs, or in having interviewed George. All I have done is seen his interview on CNN, and I can tell you that what I saw and felt blew me away. His raw emotion, his untempered honesty and his unbridled love for his wife inspired me to continued realization of how special each moment of love we share is, and how we should not take any future we plan as something that is guaranteed.
I love the persistence of the man who had to propose to his woman not once, not twice, but 5 times before she accepted on the sixth. “She turned me down five times,” he said. How many of us would tolerate being turned down 5 times by a woman let alone keep pursuing her? His answer is simple.
“I just fell in love with her.”
Yeah. That’s the best explanation any man could give. It is perfect in its simplicity and wonderful in its completeness. We should all love so much.
As I watched George nestled among most of his and Dawn’s children, I saw a man in more pain than any man should face. I saw a family suffering at the sudden loss of a lover, a mother and a certain innocent none of us should have to experience. The future, however, is not certain.
George and Dawn had built a dream house in the Adirondacks to share, and George had planned on Dawn living there well after his own death. She was much younger than he, so the assumption was not hard to make. She was to live there after he had passed, with plenty of rooms for children and grandchildren to keep her company in his absence. George had though lovingly of taking care of his wife’s needs long after he had gone, and now he was faced with something he could never have comprehended.
“…now it’s me,” he said. “I don’t think I can do that.”
As emotional as it is watching George Hochsprung talk about his loss, nothing was more emotional to me than the raw honesty he showed when asked how he felt about his wife’s heroic actions.
“Dawn put herself in jeopardy, and I have been angry about that,” he said.
It’s not hard to imagine. He’s missing her, he needs her, and their well-planned future together will never be. She could have hidden herself and come home to her husband. She could have chosen to not face an armed killer and retired to that dream house in the mountains.
But that was not her way. Instead, she told two other teachers to hide while she delayed the gunman. She then confronted him.
“She could’ve avoided that,” George Hochsprung said. “But she didn’t; I knew she wouldn’t. So, I’m not angry anymore. I’m not angry. I’m just very sad.””
Yes, that is plainly evident, as is the truth that our futures are fleeting, our present moments are all we are sure to know. Love is forever, even if our physical bodies are not. Dawn’s actions that day were ones of love and tremendous courage, and the actions of George and his family’s remain just as courageous today. All heroes like Dawn leave behind those who must wish that, at some level, they would have made a choice to come home and to secure the future they had all dreamed about.
To those of us who marvel at such love we owe a debt of gratitude to Dawn and George for showing us something wonderful in the midst of so much suffering. Thank you for showing us something else to focus on besides the carnage and anger. Thank you for showing us something that should reside in us for the rest of our lives.
Tonight, I will hold my lover tight and remind her of something far greater than me. I hope so anyway.