January 16, 2013

Newtown mom dreams about son, urges gun reform

John Christoffersen / The Associated Press

DANBURY, Conn. — In one dream, 6-year-old Noah brushes his teeth at the sink, his dark hair wet. He looks directly at his mother and says, "Mommy, I'm having fun." In another, Veronique Pozner gives birth atop a mountain, is handed the infant by a midwife and walks down a long flight of stairs back to a village. But she drops the baby.

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Veronique Pozner's son Noah was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. Her family has submitted a detailed proposal to a White House task force that proposes a range of reforms, including federal grants for public schools to undergo reviews to improve security and requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons in their homes if the guns could be accessed by mentally ill or dangerous people.

AP

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"When I got to the bottom, the baby was dead," Pozner says, crying.

Since the massacre last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Pozner has struggled with the gaping hole left by the loss of her energetic, affectionate son. She has tried to help her other children cope and make sense of the senseless. And she has managed to lead her family in pushing for reforms from the White House.

"What's the alternative?" the 45-year-old oncology nurse told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "Not getting out of bed? I don't think Noah would want to see me like that, although sometimes it is hard to get out of bed."

Gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at home, shot his way into the school Dec. 14, killed 20 first-graders and six educators, and committed suicide as police arrived, according to investigators. They said the mother and son fired at shooting ranges and also visited ranges together.

Pozner says she believes the woman was negligent.

"I think he had a mother who at best was blind; at worst aided and abetted him," she says. "Maybe she wanted to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy by letting him handle weapons of mass carnage and taking him to shooting ranges. I think there was gross irresponsibility, and I'd like to think that maybe she was just as unwell as he was to have allowed someone as obviously compromised as he was to have access."

Those who knew Nancy Lanza have described her as a good, devoted mother.

Pozner was at her job in nearby New Britain when she heard a report of a shooting at the school. She rushed there and found her two daughters — including Noah's twin, Arielle — but Noah's class was unaccounted for. As she waited, she noticed clergy members among the parents and began to fear the worst.

"Just in my heart of hearts I knew something really bad had happened," she says. She asked if it was a hostage situation. No. "I asked them if it was a morgue up there," she says.

At some point, she was told 26 people had been killed, including 20 children.

"It was kind of like being told when you wake up from a routine operation, 'I'm sorry, but you're now paralyzed below the neck and you're going to have to learn to live for the rest of your life like that,'" Pozner says.

She went into denial at first, thinking Noah was just hiding at school. Relatives and friends offered support. Visiting a makeshift memorial helped, too. She recently took her children out of town for a few days, and the family is getting counseling.

"But I find that grief finds me no matter how busy I keep," she says. "It's a very strange process. It just blindsides you when you least expect it."

Pozner's family has submitted a detailed proposal to a White House task force, recommending a range of legal reforms including federal grants to review security at public schools and requiring gun owners to lock weapons if mentally ill or dangerous people could access them otherwise.

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