Months by months, weeks by weeks, days by days, hours by hours, minutes by minutes, and seconds by seconds tick down to that dreadful date and I freeze up. I haven't wrapped my head around the time just yet and I know that when the final seconds pass me by, all I will feel is heartbreak all over again. Fear, pain, tears, and sadness is what will await me when February 14th finally arrives. I won't be getting chocolate or flowers and happiness. I'll just be reminded of a horrible event that flooded through my city like a storm.
The mass high school shooting that took place at the end of the school day, on a day that was supposed to be filled with love and joy, was destroyed when Nikolas Crus decided to change our lives forever. Right down the street my friends had fought, hid, and ran for their lives while I was at home watching the madness on the news.
I remember texting all my friends to find out if they were safe and ok and not receiving a text message back for hours. I remember seeing videos all over social media. I remember seeing my neighborhood on the news and it clicked in my head that the monster was finally detained right behind my house. I remember the sorrow that filled the air which lasted for months after the shooting. I remember attending friends' memorials and their funerals as if it was ok or normal for someone to be killed at such a young age. It isn't. I remember all the new threats going around surrounding schools, including my own. I remember feeling terrified by going to school and when I did, my classes were empty. I remember break down after break down that I had and the people around me had.
It was a terrible tragedy; which it was so much more than that, but words cannot place what we felt and experienced that day, and we will never be the same. And now with less than a week until the one-year anniversary, I still can't understand or believe the fact that it's been a whole year. That it has been a year without the 17 beautiful lives that were taken a lifetime too soon. Fathers, brothers, sisters, children are gone with only a squeeze of a finger.
How can it come to that?
A life that holds so much meaning, taken with such a small little object shot from a distance?
It baffles me that life is so short and we can't control it.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time when life was simpler, or when I was naïve to all the terror in the world and just live and be happy. To be with those who were lost, to remember them for who they are and not the horrifying event that's the reason for them being gone. So, in memory of them and to remember who they are as people, not statistics or numbers. Here are Parkland's 17 angels and they are real!
Nicholas Dworet, an insanely talented swimmer who was committed to his next four years at the University of Indianapolis. And loved to listen to Aerosmith and the Beatles. My friend.
Peter Wang, a JROTC student who was always super kind to anyone, even if you were a stranger.
Scott Beigel, an amazing teacher and Cross-Country Coach whose passion was running and coaching his students to be the very best that they can be.
Alex Schachter, a boy who loved band and dreamed of playing for the University of Connecticut and always wore the same UConn hoddie.
Jaime Guttenberg, an incredible dancer who brought tears to your eyes just by watching her dance.
Luke Hoyer, a boy who loved to play basketball and never stopped playing and also never stopped eating chicken nuggets.
Aaron Feis, a big teddy bear! He loved everyone and was always there for the students. His newborn daughter should be one right about now.
Alyssa Alhdadeff, a skilled soccer player who you could always find at the beach because it was her second home.
Gina Montalto, an amazing performer for the school's Winter Guard and threw that flag with grace.
Martin Duque-Anguiano, a boy with a great sense of humor and was a big nerd for Star Wars!
Alaina Petty, a JROTC student who was following her brother's footsteps and had an extremely bright personality.
Helena Ramsay, an intelligent girl who loved to travel and was obsessed with K-Pop music!
Chris Hixon, the athletic director who loved all sports and supported every single team and cheered them on, on the sidelines.
Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, a boy who loved soccer, his family and friends and just became a U.S. Citizen.
Cara Loughran, a talented Irish dancer who loved the beach and her life was filled with so much beauty!
Carmen Schentrup, a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist, she was crazy smart and loved playing the piano.
Meadow Pollack, a brave and courageous girl who was super kind and was planning to become a lawyer at Lynn University.
Looking through this list, I am reminded that even though February 14this a horrible memory for what happened, I should celebrate the lives these wonderful people lived. They deserve extended happiness and that's what I'll strive for next week.
This should never happen to anyone else.
I am MSD Strong and I stand tall!
Thank you for reading my story and look out for my next story coming soon.