Dear Sandy Hook,
The intercom came on in the middle of class. It never comes on in the middle of class. The principal’s voice booms over the loudspeaker: “There has been a shooting at the elementary school in Sandy Hook. We are currently on lockdown.” Eyes look around astonished searching for explanation. Hearts beat fast and everyone is at a loss for words. Questions race through each mind in the room, each mind in the school. And soon they start slipping out of our mouths: Why an elementary school? Why here? Who would do such a thing? But the gravest question was kept silent: How many lives were taken today? Rumors flew around and as the day continued, the full story was starting to form. The remainder of the day went by slower than time ever had. Televisions were broadcasting the news in the library, students were on the phone with parents and family members, and there was a looming cloud of fright over the entire school.
When I returned home that day, the news was on our television and my family was watching with intent, teary eyes. The numbers had increased since I last heard. From 10 children to 20 children. And from one teacher to six. Innocent lives had been taken in a blink of an eye: children who had their whole lives ahead of them, and adults who had families to come home to.
One word I can use to describe December 14 of 2012 was anxiousness. The feeling of not knowing was unbearable: not knowing who the shooter was or what his motives were, not knowing the amount of students and faculty who had their lives taken, and not knowing if any of those students or staff were someone I knew. My anxiety was at great heights but I cannot imagine the pain that the parents were feeling while awaiting reunions with their children. And I cannot imagine the pain felt by those who never received that last hug.
Needless to say, I didn’t know anyone who was killed that day. I had no personal connections in any way. But I would like to let the town of Sandy Hook know that I felt your pain…and I still do to this day. This world has become a place where lives of the innocent are taken daily. It’s hard to understand and I will never come to comprehend the reasoning behind some human being’s actions. But on December 14th, 2012, the world felt your pain. Losing a child in such a way is something no parent should ever have to go through. Heaven received the bravest angels that day…angels that became a symbol of hope for this world.
Ever since that day, the term community took on a new meaning in my eyes. The most unlikely people came together that day. Communities all over the world mourned the loss of 26 beautiful souls. A beautiful tribute was painted onto a bridge in my town, one that lasted until this past year. My family made it a tradition to place 26 ribbons with the names of the victims on our tree each Christmas season. My school made cards for the families in Sandy Hook for Valentine’s Day. And 26 Days of Kindness has become an annual tradition in honor of the children and staff.
Life has changed since that day. For me, it has become more of a mission to give to others. A simple act of kindness, they say, can go a long way. For many, that has now become a motto to live by.
Each day is a blessing. We must remember to cherish them. We never know when they will be gone. Not only should we cherish each day, but also every loved one in our lives. There may be a day where you won’t get that last hug, or kiss on the cheek. There may be a day that you won’t see that beautiful smile, or hear that beloved voice, again. Treat each moment like it’s the last. Because one day it will be.
Three years later, our hearts still reach out to you. There is no way we can feel the pain that you feel but we can continue to stand with you. Each child’s face plays in my mind this day, so innocent, so pure, yet so brave. The lasting twinkle in their eyes and the crooked smiles displayed across their faces are what they will be remembered by. The beauty of their simple lives are infinite. Sandy Hook, you are strong - stronger than you know. I pray for you this day that you have peace in your hearts and you’re striving to have the memory of your beautiful sons and daughters live on in your lives forever.