Animal sanctuary to be named for Newtown victim

Catherine Hubbard
February 20, 2013 2:54:15 PM PST
There is a special connection between the Triangle and one of the tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

Jenny Hubbard, known intimately to the St Thomas More Academy community, spent a big part of her childhood in Chapel Hill. Hubbard moved to Newtown with her family eight years ago. Hubbard's 6-year-old daughter Catherine was one of the children killed at the school by Adam Lanza.

Jenny says her daughter was quiet and contemplative to the outside world, but those closer to her knew a chatty, goofy - and as Jenny describes - an "itty bit" of a girl who  loved weekends with her family.  

Her brother Freddy, just two years older, was her best pal.  Catherine was obsessed with animals - both live and stuffed toys. Mounds of toys had to be pushed aside just to find her cheek for a goodnight kiss.  She rode horses and was drawn to any and every living creature.  She had a bunny, wanted a pig, and even bargained for a squirrel. She loved catching things in the yard.

"And at the end of the day, she would always release them," Jenny Hubbard recalled. "She always felt if they could go tell their friends then they would come back ... She would say 'They're going to go tell their family or they're going to tell their friends that we were kind.'"

Catherine's dog Sammy loved her too.

"After we lost Catherine, we came home. Sammy went downhill. She couldn't even get up. She knew," said Hubbard.

Catherine did not, however, love leaving her mom for school. That is until December 14, the last day Catherine ever got on her school bus.  That day, she was confident - even radiant.

"When I picture her, I picture her going to school that morning and that is like, precious, precious," said her mom.

Hubbard remembers the last thing she said to her daughter.

"I said 'I love you.'  We would do this thing at the bus stop - and the neighbors thought I was certifiable - we would kiss each other's hands," Hubbard recalled. "And so that day, she said 'I pushed it in Mama all the way,' and for her to make a joke in front of everyone, it was like, wow, that's really neat. She's good. 'I pushed it in mama all the way to my toes' 'I know baby, me too, I love you. See you later.'"

Later came the horrible news.

"I think that God gives you what you need at any given moment. And that day, he just, he wrapped me in a cocoon and gave me a peace that I can't even describe.  You talk about being held up," said Hubbard. "When they came out and they said what had happened, they had asked the kids and non-family to leave the room.  Freddy's asked me a couple of times 'Why were all those people screaming?' and I don't remember it. It's like God hasn't allowed that to take away the peace."

There is also peace in keeping Catherine's memory alive. An animal sanctuary in Catherine's name is in the works. It will be a place for all creatures, great and small.

"I think at 6, to be able to look at the world in its innocence is pretty special," said Hubbard. "I think that if we can give a place of serenity and a place of hearing to the creatures that she loved the most, then we're doing honor to her life."

Click here to learn more about donating to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Memorial Fund (.pdf)

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