“Noah’s picture just stuck with me for some reason,” Seth Galena tells me over the phone. “Noah,” of course, is Noah Pozner, the six year-old Jewish boy who was the youngest victim of last Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. He continues, “I actually ended up posting a picture of him on my office cork board.”
But Galena, who lives in New York City, wanted to do more. During the eulogy Noah’s mother gave Monday she mentioned how much he loved tacos, so much so that he dreamed of working in a taco factory when he grew up. “An idea sparked to create some sort of taco factory online to remember Noah as a sort of way to continue his dream of making tacos for everyone,” Galena said.
So Galena started Tacos for Noah. Both a website and Twitter handle, Tacos for Noah has been busy with activity since Tuesday night when it was launched into the world wide web. Friends and strangers alike have been creating virtual tacos for Noah as a celebration of the little boy’s short life, and in the spirit of perpetuating his innocent dream.
One recent contributor wrote, “I want a pepperoni taco with pepper jack and pizza sauce from Noah Pozner’s Taco Factory!”
Another contributor went with something a bit more traditional: “I want cheddar, fresh guac, salsa, sour cream. Taco from Noah Pozner’s Taco Factory!”
But there’s more to the story than one individual’s goodwill and a few virtual tortillas with cheese. Because, unlike so many of the parents who watched with horror as events unfolded in Newtown— parents whose initial response was to hug their child and be thankful, Galena could not. That’s because earlier this year he lost his two year-old daughter, Ayelet, to a rare bone marrow disease. And that only drew him closer to the Pozner family, and to Noah. As was eventually done to commemorate Noah, Galena and his wife, Hindy, chose to memorialize their daughter online.
“I feel like this is a more positive, and more insightful way of getting to the real feelings of the loss of a child,” Galena said.
“When I heard the story of Noah’s love for tacos it really reminded me of my daughter who loved straws and stickers. When I would talk about her in larger terms nobody understood. But when I would say she loved this and that everyone understood her essence much more. So, when I read the eulogies I understood the essence of Noah, I understood what they were trying to say which is that this kid was a real character.”
There are few answers as to why Newtown happened. There might never be any beyond those each of us finds on our own. People are only really sure that life will never be the same in Newtown and in the United States. The mourning process began immediately and continues today. Attempts at recovery will soon follow. Closure will be difficult and elusive. Seth Galena knows this all to well. As he wrote Wednesday on the blog he dedicated to his daughter: “And while it will take time, we can bounce back to be better – and so this is my first start at helping remembering this ‘little man’ with the big soul, and mexicali palette, with pure positivity – just like another precious soul we all hold close to our hearts. “