4 years ago today, I tragically lost my niece to a senseless act of violence. One would think that over 4 years time...it may be possible to move the pain away and find a way to trudge forward....Although this indeed is the case...the pain has shifted from the center of my heart...to another place that surfaces, although less frequently, still appears....as if it were yesterday, I can't forget...and never ever will. I can't drive past the baseball field I was standing at when one of my sisters indicated to me...that my dear niece was one of the 32 victims, her precious life being taken in Norris Hall. I can't drive past here without thinking about that phone call. I can't stand at the post office window that I was at when I chatted about being concerned that we had not heard from her yet...I can't stand there and purchase STAMPS...without recollecting that conversation. I can't stand in the express grocery check-out at Yokes...without remembering the tears running down my face in front of complete strangers...and recalling a "stranger" who put her arm around me and shared how she tragically lost her brother years ago too...that things WILL get better....
Since 4 years have passed...I have grown so much....I try to be a better person...I am ashamed at all the times where I "could have" been a better friend for friends who may have struggled through a loss, or tough situation. It is only until I personally endured such horrific pain, do I realize that often times...people "don't know" what to say or do...so true that was with me.....I pray that I have become a better person...and I know my sweet niece, Leslie, would not want any of her family to live a lifetime of hurt and pain....grasping to find a new direction, I've channeled my pain at times very unproductively and inappropriately, but have caught myself in moments where finally I've started the path to being more positive. My niece, in her 20 years gave so much kindness to others...so so so much...that in a lifetime...I could never imagine giving so so much. I would hope that all of mankind was so generous, but I know better. We give, we help, we do what we do...but this young woman did so with such ease and grace. In her young years, she taught me much....
I can't let today go by, however, without lifting a prayer to her, and her 31 classmates and faculty....if only we could turn back the hands of time...I'm sure we all would have done and said things differently to others...I know I would have. And for that I need to share her favorite quote
"And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."
Sweet Leslie, I love you,