In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at Santa Fe High School this morning, I wanted to write something to those students, to any high school student losing hope, grieving, or fighting to continue.
You are more.
You are more than these days, these hallways, these expectations and books and SAT scores and essays that seem to define and determine everything you are supposed to be. You are more than the negative words spewing from the mouths of those you do not get along with. More than afternoons on the practice field, or nights spent staring at the ceiling, wishing to be someone else. You are more than the pressure. More than the darkness. More than whatever turmoil may exist in your heart right now.
This is not to say that what you’re feeling does not matter, because it does. This is simply a reminder that there is more in the world besides those walls, those peers, those broken dreams. You will leave this place and grow, change, exist far beyond what you thought could be. Even amidst this tragedy.
Please hold on.
Death is not the end of a life.
Some of you may have lost someone you loved. Their lives were cut short. I’m sorry. I’m sorry is not enough, but I’m sorry anyways. I’m sorry this world could not protect them, protect you.
But please know they did not pass in vain. They lived lives—short, but beautiful. They loved, they laughed, they walked through those halls with you, they went to games and dances, they played sports or created art, they were wonderful people. And they will always be wonderful people.
Who they were will live on and those memories will be with you. They will light a fire in you. They will spark change. Continue on in remembrance of them, for them.
We are here.
We, meaning the rest of the world. We, meaning the strangers in different states, crying at the news. We, meaning the government, the politicians, the advocates on either side of legislation. We, meaning the people who sometimes don’t seem to understand or care, but do. We all do.
The world may be divided about what to do or what the right choice is when it comes to guns, but that doesn’t mean the love is not apparent. The world wants to see you stronger. We want to heal the ache in your chests. We want to change the laws or the thinking, change the world we live in so that things like those don’t have to happen to you. We may not always have the same approach, but we love you. We’re behind you. And we won’t give up.
You are not alone.
Others are grieving, too, in similar and different ways. Let this be a reminder that you are not the only one who has lost, who feels empty, who is wandering forward in weakness, desperate for answers, for hope, for light.
Bond with the ones who have experienced tragedies like yours. Hold hands with people who are hurting. Cry and do not feel ashamed. Share your truth. Speak out. Take time to grieve. Healing will come; togetherness will help the process.
Don’t give up your fight.
Fight for what it is you believe in. Fight for yourself. Fight for each other. Fight to get through to tomorrow. Face the bullies, the drama. Challenge the legislation. Argue with the people who want to take away your rights. Push back against what doesn’t sit well in your chest.
You will be afraid. You will be broken. You will feel young and foolish at times, but what you have to say matters, in whatever capacity and with whichever side you choose to agree.
Don’t let tragedy cause your voice to die.
You are stronger than you think. Pick up the pieces, hold your loved ones, seek healing, pray, move, keep going.
You are loved.