It’s been a year. A year of suffering and pain, of inspiration and hope, of determination and resiliency. Our newest day of infamy has become an opportunity to celebrate heroism, to celebrate incredible courage, to celebrate the lights that shine as long as we keep them lit.
This time last year, I did not know Ana Marquez-Greene. On the morning of December 14th, 2012, that changed. I was on the phone with a colleague as the events in Newtown unfolded. We watched Twitter and Facebook reports that preceded the news. We watched as the news confirmed our most horrific fears. I went home that night and hugged my own children tightly, heartbroken for the families that did not have that opportunity.
Days after the events in Newtown, I discovered the Facebook page that Ana’s parents had set up for her. I felt compelled to follow it and let it be the one way, in that moment, that I could give back. By listening. By participating. By seeing this precious child and the happiness that she brought the world. By letting her life inspire my own.
Over the last year, I’ve seen so much shared by Ana’s parents and have come to love the light that she is. She was a dancer and singer, she loved second hugs and second breakfasts, she was smart and beautiful and loved by all. She has no idea how much her story, her personal story, has inspired me this past year. Her parents have no idea how inspirational they’ve been to countless people around the world who look to them with both awe and the deepest of sympathies.
I remember Ana in my daily prayers. I think of her when I work with teachers. I wonder constantly about how she continues to contribute to the world. Because she does.
Ana Marquez-Greene makes me brave. She makes my children brave. Her memory is a legacy of opportunities to be brave and awesome and capable and worthy.
As long as I live I will celebrate her light. I will celebrate all of their lights. These children and these teachers deserve to lifted up and carried on and remembered for millennia.
On this Newtown Remembrance Day, I challenge you:
To smile when you work.
To dance when you can.
To sing out loud just because.
To grab a second hug.
To have a second breakfast.
To be inspired by a child.
Ana Marquez-Greene, darlin’, you live on in the hearts and minds of everyone who knew you and everyone who has gotten to know you thanks to your wonderful parents. Please know that you are inspiring educators everywhere. Know that you are being held in the warmth of memories both real and virtual and that people around the world are thinking about you.
In honor of this day, and as a result of reading this entire blog post, I encourage you to do something nice in the name of Ana. A random act of kindness. A cup of coffee for the person in line behind you. A blanket for the man on the street. An extra tip for your waitress. A surprise for your child. A “No Homework” pass for your students. A smile to everyone you meet.
We will never forget you, Ana. We will never forget you all. We will never forget Sandy Hook.