On December 13th 2012, I had to stand in line for security as I prepared to fly home after finishing my first semester of college. I complained about the long lines and that I had to pack a month’s worth of clothing and shoes into two small duffle bags. I got off the plane, and when I walked towards the gate, I saw my dad waiting for me. I ran to him and gave him a huge hug before going to baggage claim.
The next morning, my mom was watching the news. I asked her to change the channel, because the news depresses me. Literally moments later, our local news station announced that there was a shooting at an elementary school 45 minutes away from my house.
I couldn’t breathe. Reilly, my seven year old cousin, lives in Newtown, and attends public school there. I had never been so afraid in my life. I soon found out that he attends another school, and was safe. I would find out later that his best friend is a student at SHES and was in the class of second graders told to cover their eyes as they passed the body of their principal. This sweet seven year old boy had seen the body of his beloved principal, unrecognizable after being shot at.
I saw a girl I graduated from high school with tweet saying that no one had heard from her cousin Vicki, who was a teacher at the school. Vicki did not make it out alive. Vicki Soto helped save some of her students, and I am so proud to say that we graduated from the same high school and were from the same town. She is Stratford’s Hero.
Where was God during this? God was in the community who supported each other, teachers who died protecting their students, the first responders who put aside their pain to care for those who needed their care.
Today, my heart breaks for 26 families who lost a child, a sibling, a parent, a cousin, a friend. 20 little souls who will never get to go to college, and whose parents will never experience a hug from them again.