Every parent marks the milestones achieved by his/her child: the first smile, the first tooth, that first wobbly step. The first word is highlighted in the baby journal, that lock of hair from the first haircut lovingly stored between pages. Each year, bigger milestones are noted. The first day of preschool is soon the kindergarten bus run, which evolves into the firsts of first grade: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic…
But December 14 remains a harsh reminder every year that for 20 families of our community — some now formerly— childhood milestones ground to a halt in first grade.
The promise of the future remains suspended, incomplete for them. And 2019, seven years after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is a marker not only of unanswered questions that lie in everyone’s hearts — ‘Where would he/she be today? What kind of a young person would he/she be today? If only…” — but that the years going forward without these youngest victims will ever be longer than the time that these precious lives were so briefly here.
The impact, though, of their being, is ongoing. We honor their lives through individual remembrances and foundations created by families, each one spreading a message of love through actions and a change in attitude.
Six more victims of 12/14 were so important in the lives of the children at Sandy Hook School. While these educators may have walked this earth a few years longer than their charges, every single one also has milestones that will never be achieved, that their families must annotate with a question mark. Like the families of the 20 children who died December 14, 2012, there are scholarships and foundations that are ways to carry forward the hopes they had for their futures.
There are now those who will reach milestones they might not have otherwise, because families impacted by one tragic day decided to choose love and make those lost lives continue to grow in word and deed. Victims of 12/14 will live on through their legacies, though their time here was abruptly ended.
Losing lives to senseless murder is never a positive. Outliving those who should have outlived parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles because of violence is a curse no one should endure.
Make every year count. Find out how you can keep these memories vivid, and move others toward reaching milestones that make a difference in their lives. Visit mysandyhookfamily.org for information on the many ways you can help love win.
Then say their names. Say them aloud and say them in your soul. We promised we would never forget. Honor the memory of every moment of their lives that shone on friends and families.
Anne Marie Murphy