An Open Letter To The Survivors Of The Parkland Shooting

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Mike Labrum / Unsplash

First off, even if you don’t want to hear it right now, you need to understand that everything is going to be alright. Even if you don’t want it to be.

Even if you want the whole fucking world to just burn, because the people who made mornings worthy of getting out of bed aren’t here anymore, please understand that’s okay too. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling right now: Anger, fear, sadness, guilt, or absolute numbness.

You are not alone.

There is no time frame for your grief. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for still missing your lost classmates and teachers six months from now, or six years, or six decades. Their lives, and the impressions that they made on you matter. Their absence matters, and your grief for what you have lost matters.

Healing from this is going to be a difficult process. You might see your loved ones in the faces of strangers on the streets, until you take a second glance. You might swear that you can hear their laughter in the crowd. You might dream of them and swear that they were just right there with you. They’re going to show up in lyrics of songs on the radio, and everything you write. Anytime you meet someone with one of their names, you might momentarily forget how to breathe. You’re going to meet people who have the same smile; the same sweater, the same hair color or eyes. It’s going to hurt at first, but eventually, you will find comfort in the familiar fragments of them that still exist, scattered among humanity.

You’re probably going to stumble around trying to find ways to fill the void that they left behind. You’re going to find yourself doing things you never would have done before, all in an attempt to cope with this new, terrible feeling in your chest. Please know that you are not alone, and you are so loved. The people who are no longer here wouldn’t want you to follow them out. They did not choose this. So please, don’t you dare choose to inflict their tragedy on to yourself either, okay? Please hold on.

I know how bad it hurts to lose multiple people at such a young age. I know it feels like your whole world has just been ripped out from under your feet. Teenagers aren’t supposed to die. Nobody is supposed to die like that. I understand how traumatic it is to look down and say goodbye to someone your own age for the last time; to see your own mortality like that.

It’s hard to close and say goodbye to one of your favorite books that were still being written, but you will always carry your favorite chapters of their story with you. They’re still alive in you, in your stories, your memories, and in your choices. It’s going to hurt like hell for a while, and the pain never really goes away, but you will learn how to make room for it. You are going to make it through this. Even if you aren’t sure that you want to.

You will always carry your loved ones with you. You will tell the story of their beautiful lives to the people who you haven’t even met yet: To your children, your coworkers, your future lovers, and to other survivors. That is how you keep your loved ones alive. That is one of the many reasons why you fight to keep yourself alive, even if you don’t want to right now.

Their story resides in you. Hold on to it, and let it carry you through this storm. With storms, come rain. With rain, comes growth. Even if everything in you is screaming for destruction, please learn to plant beautiful things in their absence, and never forget that some very special species of flowers only know how to bloom in darkness. Allow yourself to be a garden of growth in this current absence of sunlight. Offer your midnight-blooming flowers as strength to others who are struggling to find their own way in the dark.

I am so sorry that this has happened to you.

Above all else, please remember that this tragedy does not define you. TC mark

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