Dear Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Jesse, Catherine, Chase, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison,
You were taken too soon, that is true. It is also true that you have experienced an unimaginable, horrifying end to your promising lives. I am so truly sad that this world will not experience you as teenagers, young adults, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers. You didn’t get your chance to fulfill the promise in your shining eyes and wide grins depicted in the photos lovingly treasured and shared by your families.
I do know this, however. No matter how senselessly your lives came to an end, that is not the full story. For you have impacted lives around the globe. On a more practical, domestic front you have ignited a debate about what should or should not be considered a constitutional right in the United States.
But the largest impact this horrible, senseless act has had is that, anywhere that your stories have reached, people are looking with new eyes at the children in their lives. They are realizing that they are a gift and are holding them close, expressing their love and appreciating the little things that seem so mundane, but certainly are now being missed by your loving family and friends.
I’m just a small-town girl that has been given a voice as managing editor of a family of community newspapers, but I’m also a mother, and I know that I thank God that I am able to hold my children close and tell them that they are special and loved.
Just as I know your parents did, in so many ways.
And so, the sad end to your promising lives, though senseless, means something to so many. It is with tremendous sorrow that we, who did not know you, acknowledge the loss and feel boundless sympathy for those you left behind.
Though short, your lives had value, and have impacted so many, uniting a country in mourning and a world in prayer and bringing a greater understanding of the many gifts you, and all children, bring to so many lives.
Rest in peace, and know you mattered. Though your light was dimmed that horrible morning, it still burns bright in the hearts of those who knew you best, and is kindled every time a parent holds their child close.
Feb 21, 2017