One week from today, nearly 100 people from my graduating class will gather in Aurora, Colorado for a reunion that, until yesterday, I felt very ambivalent about attending; I have worked hard to maintain friendships–some through Facebook, most in real time–with those I was fortunate enough to meet a decade ago, and I promised myself that I’d make it to the next one. But now, in the wake of the tragedy that struck my hometown early Friday morning, I would give just about anything to spend a few days–wondering, waiting, grieving– with the community that means so much to all of us.
Our high school years were bookended by the shootings at Columbine and the events of September 11th, and were bookmarked by other, closer-to-home accidents and losses and general sadnesses that had the potential to extinguish that indescribable life-spark that so many of my classmates possessed. But somehow, remarkably, those bits of energetic light managed to get even brighter as they made their way out into the world. The people I knew then– and believe I still know now, although we all are, inevitably, different– have done incredible things. Some of us are lawyers and teachers and advocates for the underrepresented. Some of us are service members; some of us are parents. And yesterday, some of us were the police officers and firefighters and nurses and doctors who were on scene when the unthinkable happened.
We are no longer the vibrant youth of our community; naturally– beautifully–we’ve been replaced by an even more diverse, energetic, and generous group of potential world-changers, and I was blessed with the opportunity to see some of those kids in action when I returned to Aurora as a high school English teacher. It breaks my heart to know that they, especially, are struggling to make sense of something so senseless, but trust that they will work tirelessly to restore– or recreate, if necessary–the sense of goodness and wholeness that makes our city– our beautiful, imperfect city–so special.
Sending love and light to the many, many, many people who are hurting today.
P.S.– A friend posted a link to this article on her Facebook page– I highly recommend reading it if you have time.
Photo: Thank you, Wildretina, for this free-use photo