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To Those Affected and to Those Who Can Make A Change

Concerts. Nightclubs. College campuses. High schools. Elementary schools. Places of worship. Movie theaters. Malls. Businesses. Salons. Hospitals. Nursing homes. Military posts. Streets. The list goes on and on. How can we leave our homes?

Las Vegas. Orlando. Virginia Tech. Newtown. Sutherland Springs. Killeen. San Ysidro. Austin. San Bernardino. Edmond. Fort Hood. Binghamton. Littleton. Seattle. Aurora. Atlanta. Charleston. Manchester. The list goes on and on. How can we feel safe in our own communities?

Children. Sons. Daughters. Mothers. Fathers. Pregnant women. Grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Neighbors. Friends. Teachers. Police officers. Students. The list goes on and on. How can we leave our loved ones in the morning, unsure if we will ever see them again?

This is a letter to you. A fallen victim. A traumatized survivor. A grieving loved one. A hurting community member, or an empathetic human being just wondering where it all went wrong. A powerful politician with the ability to put an end to this. To you.

 

The fallen victims

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your life came to an abrupt stop. I’m sorry that you had to have a tragic ending to your story. I’m sorry that the actions of one individual caused you to suffer. I’m sorry that you couldn’t say a proper goodbye to your loved ones; how could you have known it would be the last time you saw them, spoke to them, hugged them? I’m sorry that you may have lived your last moments in fear. I’m sorry that this could have been prevented, but that it wasn’t. I’m sorry that you were taken away when you could have stayed. It didn’t have to end. 

I wish I could give you back those moments you are going to miss. I wish you could experience the things that you were robbed of. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that your life was taken from you before you could experience all that life has to offer— the beautiful moments, no matter how big or small, that were ripped from beneath you. No matter how young or old you were when you took your last breath, there should have been more.

Some of you had your whole lives ahead of you. How can we grapple with the fact that you are never going to be able to get your driver’s license? Go to prom? Graduate? Go to college? Fall in love? Get married? Have kids? Watch your children become all that they can be? Meet your grandchildren? How can we know what you would have become? How can we imagine what path you would have followed without us feeling empty, knowing you won’t ever get to reach and exceed your potential? 

With every bit of my being, I am sorry. I honor you. I send my love to you, perfect stranger. I send my strength to your loved ones. I hope with all of my heart that one day, things will be different. I hope we can make a change for you.

The traumatized survivors

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you spend each and every day carrying the burden of what you went through. I’m sorry that you lay awake at night, replaying the trauma in your mind. I’m sorry that you have to wonder, “why me?” when being haunted by this experience. I’m sorry that you have to cry, “why not me?” when you mourn the loss of the victims that didn’t survive. I’m sorry that you may have sustained injuries— that the scars on your body serve as a constant reminder of the day your life came crashing down around you. I’m sorry that you had to go through what you went through, and I’m sorry that you have to relive it each and every day. I’m sorry that this was preventable, but that it was not prevented. 

With every bit of my being, I am sorry. I honor you. I send my love to you, perfect stranger. I send my strength to you and your loved ones. I hope with all of my heart that one day, things will be different. I hope we can make a change for you.

The grieving loved ones

I’m sorry. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart that you feel empty. I’m sorry that you are mad at the world and I’m sorry that you spend every day wondering why your loved one was taken so soon. I’m sorry that you feel alone, no matter how many times people send you their love and support. I’m sorry that my apologies won’t bring them back. I’m sorry that you crave to hear their laughter, that you long to hold them tight, that you feel an irreparable hole in your heart where their love once was. I’m sorry that you won’t be able to see your loved one become all that you knew they could become, and that you have to miss out on being present for the most important moments in their life. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry that it didn’t have to be this way. I’m sorry that it is this way.

With every bit of my being, I am sorry. I honor you. I send my love to you, perfect stranger. I send my strength to you. I hope with all of my heart that one day, things will be different. I hope we can make a change for you.

The hurting community members & the empathetic human beings

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you feel this loss so deeply. I’m sorry that you feel helpless. I’m sorry that you often feel fearful when your turn on the TV because you don’t want to see another tragic story about innocent lives being taken. I’m sorry that you find yourself wondering if this could happen to you or your loved ones, and I’m sorry that it could happen to you or your loved ones. I’m sorry that you are scared to leave your house, and I’m sorry that you don’t feel safe anywhere anymore. I’m sorry that you have to hope that each time you say goodbye to your loved ones, they will return to you safely. I’m sorry that you have to live in constant worry. I’m sorry that pretty much everybody you know feels this way, too. I’m sorry that we live in a time where everyone is feeling uneasy. I’m sorry that this is our reality when it doesn’t have to be.

With every bit of my being, I am sorry. But I stand with you, perfect stranger. I send my strength to you. I hope with all of my heart that one day, things will be different. I hope we can make a change together.

The powerful politicians 

I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you feel that there is nothing that can be done. I’m sorry if you think that the solution to this violence is more guns. I’m sorry if you think that anybody needs a weapon that can kill and injure hundreds of people within seconds, and I’m sorry if you think a weapon of this capacity is for “self defense.” I’m sorry if you are so naïve to think that it still isn’t time to talk about this. I’m sorry if you think this is “just politics,” when it is so much more than that. I’m sorry if you think that thoughts and prayers are enough. I’m sorry if you think the thousands of tragic, senseless deaths couldn’t have been prevented. I’m sorry that I have to inform you that you’re wrong about all of these things.

How many more fallen victims, traumatized survivors, grieving loved ones, hurting community members, and empathetic human beings do I have to apologize to until you realize that something needs to be done? How many “Deadliest Mass Shooting In History” headlines do we have to read in the news before you realize this is an issue? How many more children need to be murdered for you to feel their losses deeply enough for you to do something? How many more funerals and memorials before things are different?

With all of my being, I hope you will use your power for good. I have hope for our country. I have hope in our citizens, in our government, and in you. I hope with all of my heart that one day, things will be different.

 

UNH class of 2020 ~ puppies, coffee, & criminal minds
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