I look at all the faces, all 32 of them and I just cannot grasp the magnitude of loss.
We have all grown so much over the last 7 years. There have been so many milestones met and it is just so sad to think their families didn’t get to experience this with their loved ones. It’s so sad that we’ve gone 7 years since seeing their faces.
Every anniversary, I am reminded of the stories and reminded of all these fantastically big futures that were so prematurely ended and I feel two emotions: unbearable sadness and encouragement. The source of the sadness is obvious, but the encouragement comes from their lives and their stories which make me want to try harder, be better, and to do what I can in my life to honor theirs. This could come in the form of a series of random acts of kindness or in the quieter moments of personal reflection.
It always hits me like a ton of bricks. I remember the day, I remember it all unfolding - the chaos, the sadness, and being forced to accept such an atrocity. 32 lives, 32 futures. It’s still so unbelievable today.
And yet, these personal tragedies happen all the time, all over the world. Tragedy doesn’t discriminate and while I wish I never had to go through this, I know that I can relate to so many in their pain and at the very least no matter how different we are, we can at least relate to one another even if that is our lowest common denominator.
I think about them all the time. I think about our last exchanges, our funny memories, the tremendous loss and I know that I will never forget them. I know that we are always doing our best to venerate their lives.
I also believe that such anniversaries are about the survivors - those in those classrooms who saw unspeakable things, those who live with this particular cross to bear, and for the families and friends who are affected day to day. May we find the comfort we need to face this day.
My hope is that we support one another and take some time to reflect on how interconnected we all are and what we can do to strengthen those connections.